Day two from spring practice: great isn’t good enough (and the craziest things Clemson has done the last four years)

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

9t. Nkemdiche

10. Clemson football losing to South Florida in Belk Bowl in 2010

What are your craziest Clemson performances?

6 thoughts on “Day two from spring practice: great isn’t good enough (and the craziest things Clemson has done the last four years)

  1. Morris seems to be everything a head coach wants in a coordinator: a self-motivated, never-satisfied, early adopter. You often mention your hypothetical 6th-star (#want) for recruits. I think Morris has the coach’s equivalent (#drive?). Coaches like Morris, Nick Saban, Chris Petersen, Chip Kelly, etc seem to have an extra gear when it comes to out-working, out-scheming, and out-smarting the coaching staff on the opposite sidelines. Even though he’s the highest paid assistant in the country at the moment, I think the argument could still be made that he’s undervalued in his impact on Clemson’s team.

    I know it doesn’t fit the in the “Sawchik beat time frame” but two of the craziest experiences I’ve ever had at Clemson are the 2005 triple OT game against Miami and the 2006 College Gameday weekend against Georgia Tech. The Miami game is perhaps the only loss I’ve ever seen where I didn’t feel bad afterwards as a fan. I was thoroughly entertained throughout the whole game. For the GT game, the environment for Gameday then the game itself were electric. James Davis went over 200 yards and CJ Spiller went over 100. And Spiller’s double juke on the swing pass is the nastiest Clemson play I’ve ever seen (0:40 mark here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LBNA6kQWXA).

    • Matt, I’m a fan of Morris the coach, as we know. I think Texas Tech might regret not hiring him. The hiring of Morris is the signature move of Dabo’s tenure at Clemson.

      I agree that Morris has the equivalent of a sixth-star, he has #want. And #want just might be the singular most important trait for success in any field. Unfortunately for Clemson, I can’t imagine Morris is on campus much longer. I’d put the over under at 1.5 seasons. He’s going to be a fine head coach, assuming he can recruit (and reeling in Chad Kelly and Deshaun Watson suggests he can)

  2. Shoot, we need to fire Dumbo and hire The Chad! He has all those same intangibles that Saban & some of the other greats have.
    The rant you listed earlier is prime example why. You don’t get your tails handed to you on the field, then 3 days later go on that stupid, SCRIPTED, rant. Dabs can “talk” all he wants, but ultimately it’s the scoreboard that does all the talking. This rants only make him look like the idiot Coot fan thinks he is. Once Chad leaves, everyone is going to see that he’s responsible for the success we’ve had since his arrival. Dabs gets credit for taking a chance on him with his inexperience yes, but it’s his offense that have scored all these points, making up for a porous defense. Once Jeff Scott starts calling the plays, it’s going to be painfully obvious.
    Sorry, really didn’t mean for this to turn into a Dabo rant, but each time I’m reminded of his rant, it sets me off .

  3. I fear that JP is correct with regard to Dabo and Morris. For what it’s worth, I can’t recall a single program expressing any interest in Dabo during the last few off-seasons. Time will tell I suppose, but I’d take Morris over Dabo any day to lead my program.

    • Not that I’m saying Dabo is the same type of coach but how many teams expressed interest in Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Frank Beamer, or Mark Richt last year? Did anyone know Arkansas was pursuing Bret Bielema until he was actually hired? How do you know Dabo and his agent aren’t emphatically broadcasting behind the scenes that he’s not available?

      I’m not sure why there’s still a segment of the fan base who’s vehemently against Dabo as a head coach. His job is to make the high-level decisions that will move the program forward. He’s cut ties with coaches when the system wasn’t working and he’s put pieces in place that clearly are working. How is that a bad thing?

      • Well some feel that Dabo/Morris his history repeating itself (Bowden/Rodriguez). Many simply do not like that Clemson’s success is tied to a coordinator. A head coach that can call plays certainly helps maintain stability. Dabo didn’t work his way up as a coordinator, so many feel he doesn’t have a solid grasp of the X’s and O’s. I don’t know whether fans are against him per say, but many feel he still is unproven.

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