CLEMSON – Chad Morris is not ready to attach a label of greatness to his offensive line, but after reviewing film of Clemson’s 26-19 win over Auburn the Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said he was not only pleased but “surprised” by how well a group with three first-time starters performed.
“They still have got a lot of room for improvement,” Morris said. “I’m not ready to name them the ‘Seven Blocks of Granite’ or the ‘Four Horsemen’ yet. But with that being said, those guys have earned some respect on this football team. I think they’ve earned some respect throughout the country.”
The group earned respect by paving the way for 320 rushing yards and 528 yards of total offense. The yardage total was the third best single-game total under Morris at Clemson. Morris also said two of the four sacks allowed were tied to quarterback Tajh Boyd hanging on to the ball too long.
Morris was especially pleased with the improved physicality of the line, which he said produced more ‘knockdown’ blocks than at any time last year.
“Anytime you can rush the football for 300 plus yards they done something right,” Morris said. “There was that physicalness, that mentality. I’m the first one to challenge them and to challenge them in a way where they don’t like me and I don’t care.”
Morris said center Dalton Freeman was more physical Saturday than at any time last season.
“We’ve been implementing Coach Morris’ offensive line style of play (more North-South power blocking) and it’s been more effective,” Freeman said.
Freeman and the other linemen have not yet arrived, according to Morris, but they have also proven they do not have to be a liability.
“They have set a standard,” Morris said. “Here’s what we are capable of playing at and anything less than this is unacceptable.”
Boyd chooses wisely: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd had the best game of his career, not in passing yardage, but in regard to decision making, Morris said.
“When things were breaking down around him the other night was when he was at his best,” Morris said. “He pulled the ball down and chose to get three yards as opposed to pulling the ball down and side-arming to whoever, or hunkering down and taking a sack”
Boyd also made good decisions in the offseason to get his weight down to 215 pounds.
Boyd became too heavy in the second-half of last season, weighing nearly 240 pounds, and Morris said Boyd learned he is at his best when he is lean and mobile.
Long shots: The big-play passing game was missing from the Clemson offense Saturday
“We tried to (take shots),” Morris said. “They played a lot of Tampa 2 (deep coverage) on us last week. They played so deep we had to take what they gave us. We called 14 shots. You saw how many we converted. It had to do a lot with how they were playing and the talent level they had. They were going to take the deep ball away from us.”
Extra points: Morris said Clemson was in the pistol on roughly ’80 percent’ of its snaps Saturday … Morris is not concerned with Andre Ellington’s workload of 26 carries. “We’d run him 32 times if that’s what it took,” Morris said.