Morris and Steele pleased with second half

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The Clemson offense and defense were both struggling heading to halftime of Clemson’s 43-19 victory over Troy Saturday afternoon, but Chad Morris and Kevin Steele both said they were proud of how the team responded in the second half.

Morris said his offense started out fast – scoring on the second play of the game - but definitely bogged down, and he said it was because the entire unit was out of rhythm, including his play-calling.

“We started out like a bottle rocket,” Morris said. “After you look at the game, I would be remiss not to tell you that I felt in the back of my mind that with all of the new players that we have that we would have some jitters and some inconsistency with Tajh and some inconsistency with all of them. I kind of felt that. We had a few three-and-outs after getting out to a good start. We didn’t let up. The guys just haven’t been together, it was the first game with a new offensive coordinator. They couldn’t get into a rhythm and I couldn’t get into a rhythm as a play caller. We had a couple of good plays and then we would have a bad play.

“That concerned me. I knew in the back of my mind that I had to have something if that happened. I was very encouraged at half time. I came in there and saw some of the guys faces- there were some long faces- not a concern, just down. I told them, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Time out. This isn’t the way this thing is going to work. We are alright. We are just killing ourselves right now. We are going to pick ourselves up and hit a few big plays.’ I was very encouraged and impressed by the way Tajh responded in the second half and how they all did. We had to help our defense out and get us back up. They were on the field a lot during the first half.”

He said that Boyd and the offensive line had trouble with some of Troy’s blitz packages in the first half.

“We missed some hot reads and twisted some reads,” he said. “They threw us for a loop early on. Tajh was pressing. I was pressing as a play caller. They were all pressing. I asked them, ‘When was the last time you scored 43 points and played this bad in the first half?’ It just goes to show you what we are capable of doing at any given time. You can explode at any time. There is a lot of confidence in that room because they see what we can do when we know what we were doing.”

One concern for Morris in the second half was the fact that his offense went for it on fourth down near the goal line and failed to convert.

“One thing that concerned me was that we went for it down there on fourth-and-one and didn’t get it,” he said. “We were in the Power I - that’s our bread and butter. That’s being hard-nosed, playing physical football. That is something we are going to look at and study why that happened.”

Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said following the game that he was definitely not pleased with the effort of his defense, but there were positives to take away from the game.

“We will get that [mistakes] corrected. It’s correctable,” Steele said. “I think the biggest thing is that we played a lot of people. We played a lot of people early. It was some hesitation there from those younger guys. It wasn’t that they were messing up or doing the wrong thing, they just weren’t playing as fast as they needed to play. They settled down and played the way they needed to.

“The bottom line is we got a lot of positives out there. There were some very effective things done out there. They were 3.0 yards per rush. You can’t take that one long run off, but that’s very correctable. When they tried to run the ball, they couldn’t except for that one run that was just a freshman watching something that he wasn’t supposed to.”

Troy was 4-for-9 on third down conversions in the first half, and Steele said that is a number that has to improve.

“The thing that jumps out is that we have to get better and get better in a hurry on third down,” Steele said. “We weren’t very effective on third down. In fact, we were very poor on third down. We want to be about 30 percent, but I think we were closer to 45 percent [Troy ended up 7-for-18, 39 percent]. The biggest thing was that we settled down and played a little crisper. We made a few adjustments, not anything that we are going to get the Coach of the Year Award off of them half time adjustments.”

He was also pleased that some of the younger players got into the game.

“I think we played seven linebackers in the first half,” he said. “Last year, we were lucky if we could get four out there in the first half. We played a lot of the young guys. DeShawn [Williams], Grady [Jarrett], Stephone [Anthony], Tony [Steward], and Bashaud [Breeland] played. Robert SmithRobert Smith
Fr. Defensive Back
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St. George, SC

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played and got an interception.”

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