Morris: Return of Watkins to form opens up playbook


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CLEMSON – Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
So. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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credited his work in practice over the past few weeks as the key factor in his setting a Clemson record for receiving yards in a game last Thursday night at Wake Forest, and also said he thought that offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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opened up the play book more than he has at any time this season.

Morris, in his Monday session with the media, agreed that Watkins is finally rounding into shape and said that it was just a matter of time before Watkins had a breakout game.

“He had a really good work week coming in, especially off the open week trying to get some routine and get his body into playing shape,” Morris said Monday in the WestZone. “I think that is something he has been missing. When you prepare all during fall camp but know you are going to miss the first two weeks, and then get sick, you can’t get into a rhythm. It was hard to get into that playing shape.

“That is one of the things we have really challenged him on, is to practice harder and to speed that process up. We are very proud of the game that he had, but we have kind of come to expect that out of him every game. But you know it is just a matter of time before he breaks out, and I think he is going to do at a time when this football team needs him the most. “

Morris admitted that he had a more wide-open game plan against the Demon Deacons.

“I just felt like we had to be a little more aggressive than we have been in the past week or so,” he said. “We are at our best when we are spreading the ball all over the field, and I think we had 16 different people touch the ball the other night. That is a tribute to those guys executing the system, but yeah, we were more aggressive. “

The Tigers didn’t have a ton of success running the football, and Morris said part of that was Wake Forest loading the box.

“They definitely tried to load the box up on us. We wanted to establish the running game and try to get Andre [Ellington] going, but they had made the decision they would bring the extra two hats in the box and play some man coverage,” he said. “That has been the flavor this year. When Florida St. played us that way, it seemed like everybody else has followed suit. We have seen more man and zero coverage than we anticipated we would see this year, especially with the skill guys we have. When that happens, you are forced to hit some balls over the top and be able to throw the football in the crossing game. I thought we were able to do that the other night. “

He then said he was surprised that Wake Forest elected to play man coverage against Clemson’s speedy receivers.

“It really does kind of surprise me, when you see that type of skill guys that we have,” Morris said. “Sammy hasn’t been back 100 percent, but when you are able to get two going, it takes the pressure off of everybody and gives us a breath of fresh air. We were able to hit that big play and then it backed up everybody at that point.”

On the offensive line

“I thought we played okay. I was disappointed we weren’t able to get the running game going. Yeah, they loaded the box, but so what? We took some pressure off the guys by throwing the ball. Even when they didn’t have extra hats in the box, we didn’t knock them off the ball like we need to, and we need to get that going. We are going to continue to work on it. There were some bright spots, but we need to knock them off the ball a little more. I am a typical coach, I want to line up and knock people off the ball three yards every play. You just wish you had some more competition to push those guys. To motivate a Brandon ThomasBrandon Thomas
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#63 6-3, 305
Spartanburg, SC

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, to motivate a David BeasleyDavid Beasley
RS So. Offensive Guard
#68 6-4, 315
Columbus, GA

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. And we have Ryan NortonRyan Norton
RS Fr. Offensive Line
#58 6-3, 270
Mauldin, SC

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, who has come in and kind of given us that spark. But Ryan has to give us that spark at center and at right guard, but there really hasn’t been anybody at either tackle spot that has made a push. I think those guys would be a little bit more on edge if they knew their job was at stake every week.”

On Sam CooperSam Cooper
RS So. Tight End
#86 6-5, 250
Brentwood, TN

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“Sam is a guy that is starting to earn a lot of people’s trust. He is more confident in himself. I think you will see a lot more of Sam Cooper, he has earned that. Maybe that will spur Brandon FordBrandon Ford
Gr. Tight End
#80 6-4, 240
Wando, SC

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on a little bit more. I told him the other day how proud I was of him.”

On Duke’s defense

“Very well-coached and very sound. 4-2-5 scheme. They play a lot of zero and man coverage. They may play as much zero and cover one as anybody we have played this year. When they do that, you have to hit some plays over the top on them. But they play extremely hard. You are going to see a group that will play extremely hard in front of their home crowd in a night game, and we will have a big challenge in front of us.”

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