NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – I know Chad Morris does find some time to relax in the offseason. How do I know this? Jeff Scott showed me a picture from his iPhone of Morris reeling in a large mouth bass on a fishing trip to Florida. There is evidence.
But perhaps Morris’ defining characteristic is that he’s restless.
Remember last year when Morris visited Nevada and brought back the pistol? The formation allowed Clemson to improve its power-run game, immediately (288 rush yards in the season opener vs. Auburn).
Remember when Morris visited Oklahoma State last offseason to learn how the Cowboys got Justin Blackmon the ball despite everyone in Stillwater knowing he was going to get the ball? All DeAndre Hopkins did was go 82-1,405-18 in 2012. Not a bad career.
(Chad Morris speaks after practice tonight)
Well, Morris made other trips this offseason (no, not other job interviews) and invited other offensive gurus to a summit at Clemson. I asked Morris where he went and who he had come visit but he declined to reveal his stops and visitors. He did say he’s “challenging” his offense.
Great isn’t good enough.
I asked him how Tajh Boyd can get better after breaking every record Tim Bourret could think to look up or quantify last season. Morris said he doesn’t care what he did last year, if Boyd doesn’t follow up with another outstanding season he hinted that his legacy will be tarnished to a degree. If he does follow it up, he’ll be Clemson’s greatest QB of all time. That’s how you motivate.
This kind of attitude has rubbed off on Boyd who will journey to work with QB guru Georgia Whitfield again this spring. Boyd also worked with Whitfield last year. Whitfield got Boyd to better incorporate his lower-half into throws and what happened? Boyd might have had the best deep ball in the country last season.
Morris said he wants Isaiah Battle to win the left tackle job. Why? The sophomore is a 6-7, 290-pound mountain who would be a prototype at the position and allow Clemson to move Brandon Thomas to guard or right tackle. Battle could further enhance the power-run game.
Morris is always looking for a better mousetrap. He’s never satisfied. And more than his up-tempo philosophy, this is why he is a million-dollar assistant coach.
BRENT VENABLES SPEAKETH …
Clemson’s defensive coordinator Brent Venables also met with us after practice Friday. Here’s some of what he had to say:
*Venables love the depth and talent he has at linebacker. He said Oklahoma transfer Kellen Jones knows the defense well and is “disruptive.” My sense is we’ll see him on the field often.
*Big year for former five-stars Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward. Hard to believe they are juniors.
*Vic Beasley has the explosiveness and pound-for-pound strength to be a star (8 sacks in a part-time role last year) but Venables wants to see him become more “invested” off the field. He could push to start at DE.
*Venables said DE Shaq Lawson has ideal hands, arms and backside. The early enrollee freshman could be a part of the DE rotation. He has very disruptive hands.
THE CRAZY THING THAT HAPPENED TONIGHT
So out of all the things I didn’t think was possible Friday night, high on the list was Clemson knocking around NC State ace Carlos Rodon. Rodon is projected to be the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. He’s been compared to David Price by Baseball America.
And he’s left handed.
Clemson entered Friday batting .187 against LHPs, and batting .253 overall with 2 HRs on the season (11 games).
But it happened. The Tigers routed Rodon in a 10-5 win in which Garrett Boulware had two home runs. Crazy.
That got me to thinking, what are the craziest things I’ve witnessed on the Clemson beat over the last four years?
1. Clemson football’s loss at Maryland in 2009
2. Clemson football’s loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl
3. Clemson baseball routing Rodon on Friday night
4. Dabo’s rant against Spurrier/USC in 2011
5. Clemson football beating LSU on last-second field goal. (Great, great, crazy great game)
5t. Tajh Boyd’s performance in the LSU game
6. Clemson football losing to NC State in 2011
7. Sammy Watkins’ 2011 season
8. C.J. Spiller’s 2009 season
9. Clemson football defeating Miami in OT in 2009
10. Clemson football losing to South Florida in Belk Bowl in 2010
What are your craziest Clemson performances?