Posted by Chip Patterson
When Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney brought in Chad Morris to be the program's new offensive coordinator, everyone suspected the change would result in a new fast-paced offense for the Tigers. The high-octane attack that Morris used at Tulsa in 2010 produced 1,006 plays across the season. That total not only would not only put them near the top of the ACC, but was also significantly higher than Clemson's 865 play count.
But that kind of attack requires top-notch conditioning by everyone on offense, particularly the offensive line. Clemson center Dalton Freeman is the new ring leader of an offensive line that will be expected to hustle down the field after every play, living little-to-no time between whistle and snap. Freeman explained that getting used to Morris' new system has not been easy.
"We've always been a no-huddle team, but it was a little bit sluggish, Freeman explained. "I'll say we were a little bit faster than a team that huddled up, but we were never real up-tempo real upbeat. Now as soon as the whistle blows the play dead, I'm running up to the ball getting down, and we're moving. Conditioning-wise we've had to be in a lot better shape. Going into camp we're gonna try to really stretch ourselves so that the game feels like slow motion."
Morris was hired shortly after the season ended in a disappointing bowl loss to South Florida. The transition from the old system to the high-stress work ethic they are planning for camp began when the team reported to spring practice.
"We started out in the spring pretty slow compared to where we got to at the end," Freeman recalled. When we started out, [Morris] said 'this is half speed' and I was like 'you gotta be kidding me, this is full speed.' So for us to be able to get to where we want to be we have to be in great shape. That's coming together."
Of course another big part of that offense's production will be reliant on the quarterback play. Sophomore Tajh Boyd emerged from spring practice as the starting quarterback, but his inconsistencies from 2010 have Tiger fans also keeping an eye on touted freshman Cole Stoudt. There will be pressure on Boyd to put up big numbers in the system early, which is unfortunate considering the Tigers' schedule. Clemson faces Auburn, Florida State, and faces Virginia Tech in Blacksburg all in the first month of the season. Those are three tough defenses to face, even if they weren't breaking in a new offense.