CLEMSON -- Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said his offense's success over the first eight games of the season formed a confidence bubble, a bubble bursting at N.C. State on Saturday.
In trying to explain how his offense has entered what he described as a "tailspin" in recent weeks, Morris said he thinks some of the hunger has eroded.
"I think it's that when we started season, some players (thought) 'I'm battling for my job, I'm battling to prove that we can do this that we can be a top team,' " Morris said. "I thought it was an us-against the-world mentality. Eight games in, we saw our confidence level grow so big. Everyone in the country was telling them how good they are, sign this for me, sign that for me. ... We as coaches have to do everything we can to keep them grounded. There was almost a sense that 'I've arrived.'"
Morris expects execution and performance to improve at South Carolina on Saturday.
"I promise you it will get fixed," Morris said. "It's not what this offense has done eight games into the season, it's not what this offense has done (in past seasons), it's not the way it is going to end, I can promise you that."
Morris said he fully expects freshman receiver Sammy Watkins to be able to play at South Carolina. Coach Dabo Swinney expects Watkins to fully participate in practice today. Watkins is averaging 103.4 receiving yards and one touchdown per game.
One reason why Clemson has been losing steam down the stretch? The Tigers have already played a season's worth of snaps. Clemson has run 846 offensive plays this season in 11 games, nearly matching last season's 13-game total of 866 plays.
Morris said the coaches talked to players about the Oklahoma State upset loss to Iowa State before boarding the team bus on Saturday in Raleigh.
"We talked about the Oklahoma State game in the pregame meeting," Morris said, "we talked about matching energy levels."
The wrong kind of 'Shock the Word Tour' stop
"The first eight games, we were playing to kind of shock the world and try to prove everyone wrong," said right tackle Landon Walker.
"Saturday everyone said we had nothing to play for and that's what it looked like on the field."