Monday Q&A with Chad Morris

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Morris says that Nuk Hopkins has developed into a leader
Morris says that Nuk Hopkins has developed into a leader

CLEMSON – Monday is the day the media gets to meet with offensive coordinator Chad Morris, and Morris said following Monday’s early practice that he is still looking for backups to push for playing time on the offensive line.

The following is an edited transcript of Morris’ Q&A session.

*On the offensive line.

“We thought we had some guys that were really going to be pushing [for second team offensive line duties] and some of these guys that we named starters coming in, but they haven’t done that yet. We feel like we’ve developed at least one or two really solid backups, but we don’t have someone that’s really pushing and creating a battle right now. It’s sad, but we still have another day left of camp. I don’t see it changing right now. That’s what we were trying to use these 18 practices for. We are ready to play with the guys that we’ve got.”

*On the leadership shown by Nuk Hopkins.

“Nuk has a done a good job in that regard [leadership]. One of the things coming out of spring ball that I knew was what Nuk could do with the ball in his hands, when you called his number for a pass. What was he going to do without the ball- that was the biggest concern that I had. That was the biggest concerned that I had when we went into our seven minute meetings at the end of spring back. He talks about being an All-American. That’s great and that’s what we want, but that entails what you can do without the ball. He’s really worked hard at that trying to explore himself and push himself when the play is not called his direction. He has done better. He’s still not where we want him to be yet. He has come into a leadership role and has taken these young guys under his wing. He and Tajh have a great relationship. I like his role on this team and the leadership he possesses.”

*On how tired the team is right now.

“There’s a little slowness right now. We’ve worked hard and we’ve bore down on them. We’ve got a chance to start reeling their legs back underneath them over the next week, and getting them ready for game day. It will be a whole new environment around here for these guys in about a week, once they get school started and start to get their legs back underneath them.”

*On playing the best 11, regardless of experience.

“No. We are going to put guys on the field that want to be there, that take pride in being there, and that are going to play with a great passion. I know that we are going to have 11. If we have to cut and paste some guys and move guys around to make sure that we have those 11 that truly see playing football for Clemson as an honor, then we are going to have some great ones. We are going to have some guys that are ready to roll.”

*On if he has the offense installed.

“We are well ahead of where I thought we would be. Again, I was basing everything on where I thought we would be coming out of summer, how much time these guys put in, where would we start at, would be able to pick up where we left off in the spring. We are well ahead of where I thought we would be. Everything we’ve got installed right now-about 70-75 percent- we won’t take all of this into the first game. It will all cut and paste and fill itself out over the course of the season. I am pleased with where we are as far as an offensive installation.”

*On if he is surprised at how fast the team has picked up the offense.

“I am very surprised. I kept throwing it out to see how much they could absorb. The more I put on them, the better they responded and the better they got. I think we only had two days in fall camp where I had say, ‘let’s back off a day and slow down.’ Other than that, it was just ‘keep putting it on them.’ Today was a big install day too. They did exceptionally well today, too.”

*On the continued emergence of tight end Brandon FordBrandon Ford
Tight End
#80 6-4, 220
Wando, SC

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“I absolutely like what I’m seeing out of Brandon Ford. I want to back that up by saying that he has to continue being more physical. That was his M.O. coming out of spring ball- he was entirely too soft. He’s working hard at being more physical and playing faster. He’s a big target. He’s going to give us a threat in some of our two tight end sets. Brandon is a guy that is coming on and knows his role. He knows he’s got to continue working hard and playing physical in order to get playing time.”

*On the capability of the offense this season.

“With the speed that we have on the outside, Andre [Ellington] up the middle, and Tajh making good decisions, the sky is the limit on what we can do offensively. The key there is Tajh making good decisions- being able to throw the football away and go to the next down. We always talk about being able to reserve the right to kick. There is nothing wrong with kicking the football. Just punt. If we are punting every drive then we aren’t or every drive is ending with a kick, then we are doing some good things. I think Andre has definitely shown this fall camp why he should be considered one of the top guys in the country at running back. Every time I see him, he’s grinning from ear-to-ear because he knows what’s in store for him.”

*On true freshman wide receiver Adam HumphriesAdam Humphries
Wide Receiver
#13 5-11, 175
Spartanburg, SC

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“Adam is just as consistent as they get. Adam is never too high or never too low. He is doing a really good job. Adam is playing himself into a pivotal role with this program whether it’s this year or next year or whenever it is. Adam has proven that he is worthy of being considered. I have been really pleased with Adam to this point. There’s a decent chance [of him earning playing time]. There’s always a chance. He has to continue to work and keep pushing.”

*On how the team has protected the football during camp.

“They have all improved [at protecting the ball] because it’s talked about every day- every play, every rep we talk about putting the ball in jeopardy. When you do that as much as we do, it’s a constant focus. We’ve all gotten better in that regard. We aren’t where we want to be in that regard, but they have gotten so much better in protecting that football.”

*On how much his offense audibles.

“We audible very little. It is go, go, go. Usually we have answers built in. We will check some stuff, but not much because it slows us down.”

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