CLEMSON, S.C. — Offensive coordinator Chad Morris didn’t like No. 8 Clemson’s tempo in their season-opening win against fifth-ranked Georgia. He put the blame squarely on Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd and not the Bulldogs injuries on defense that interrupted Clemson’s pace.
Morris said Monday Boyd didn’t get his eyes to the sidelines quickly enough after plays in Clemson’s 38-35 win over the Bulldogs on Saturday night. Morris thought his high-speed attack should’ve squeezed off another 10-to-12 plays instead of the 76 snaps they managed in the top 10 showdown.
“We can play faster. Tajh slowed us down a whole bunch. That was some of our biggest downfalls,” Morris said. “He played well, he played like a veteran, like he’s supposed to play. But as far as the tempo, especially in the third and fourth quarter, he was the one slowing us down because he wasn’t getting his eyes to the sidelines quick enough.”
Morris said Boyd was simply caught up in the moment of a highly anticipated game. Still, the two have spoken and Morris thinks Boyd will be more attentive and crisper when the Tigers (1-0) face FCS opponent South Carolina State (0-1) on Saturday at Death Valley.
The offensive coordinator was less concerned about watching defensive players sprawled on the field with injuries in the midst of Clemson’s high-speed drives. It happened at least three times on Saturday night, each time Tiger fans booing as the Georgia player received treatment.
The one that drew the most fan reaction was Georgia freshman linebacker Leonard Floyd, who got up and fell back to the turf with the ball on Georgia’s 40 in the first quarter. Clemson had run off five quick plays, two which went for first downs.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said he tells players injured to stay down and not get up until trainers or medical staff arrive. He said Floyd “got hit in his privates real hard” which caused him to drop to the ground after attempting to leave the field.
Morris doesn’t doubt Richt’s explanation, although, he said he’s dealt the stealth injuries from the opposition since his high-speed high school days at Lake Travis High in Texas.
“I think you’re seeing that more relevant throughout the country,” Morris said. “You’re seeing teams that are following that suit. It’s hard to say. But I think we all see the same thing.”
Morris said there’s no clear solution because it’s near impossible to determine if a player is faking an injury.
“You figure that somebody’s going to have to do something,” Morris said. “But from a liability standpoint, I don’t know what you can do. Officially, what would it be, a delay of game or something? Flag somebody for something like that?”
The best way to handle any delay, Morris said, is to act like it never happened and get right back into your offense. That’s what the Tigers did on Floyd’s injury, finishing off their first touchdown drive on Boyd’s 4-yard run to lead 7-0.
Clemson was able to control tempo much of the way, scoring on drives of nine, 11, seven and 12 plays. The Tigers struck fast when the opportunity arose on Boyd’s 77-yard TD throw to Sammy Watkins on their first play of the drive.
Clemson tailback Rod McDowell said the players don’t much attention to injuries on the other side, more concerned with the next play they’re going to run. “It’s the way you have to think about it,” he said.
That’s Morris mindset, too. The Tigers hit 100 snaps in two of their last three games in 2012 and Morris had hoped for a similar energy-sapping effort against Georgia. Instead, it took too long at times for Boyd to set up for the next play. “He’s carrying his fake out and not getting his eyes around fast enough for us to get three more snaps a game,” Morris said. “Those are things you can improve. Those are fixable.”
Boyd’s delays, plus a pair of three-and-out series — anathema to Morris — cost the team as many as a dozen plays that could’ve turned the tight contest into a snoozer in the Tigers favor.
“Those are things that we’ll work on,” Morris said. “We’ll be faster this week.”