Morris: Tigers offense putting mistakes behind


Morris: Tigers offense putting mistakes behind

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Clemson's Chad Morris isn't used to watching his high-flying offense grounded like it was last week against Virginia Tech. The second-year offensive coordinator said Monday he'll make sure it won't happen again.

The 14th-ranked Tigers (6-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) were held to 295 yards against Virginia Tech. Tajh Boyd was the ACC leader in passing yards per game, but managed only 160 yards - well below his average of 291 coming in. The offensive line gave up five sacks in a 38-17 win over the Hokies after allowing only 10 its first six games.

Everyone, Morris said, shares the blame.

``It was my fault as much as anybody else's,'' he said.

Morris was encouraged Sunday when the offense came to practice focused and motivated to fix the mistakes before facing Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3) on Thursday night.

``I'm glad it's a short week. Tajh is glad it's a short week. He's shared that with me several times,'' Morris said.

Boyd rushed for a pair of touchdowns and connected with DeAndre Hopkins for a 37-yard scoring pass. But Virginia Tech set the tone, Morris said, with two sacks of Boyd on Clemson's first series and the junior quarterback struggled to step up in the pocket most of the rest of the way.

Morris said the Hokies, who had lost twice to Clemson in 2011 including the ACC championship game, were highly motivated to short-circuit an offense that was averaging 525 yards coming into last week. But that's no excuse for the Tigers not to execute the way they had the first half of the season.

``That's totally unacceptable from our guys,'' he said. ``Whether it was the open week and we had a lot of rust on us, our timing was off. All that's excuses. That's just bull-corn, in my opinion. We weren't on it.''

Boyd had no problems at practice after falling hard to the turf on his shoulder late in last week's game. ``You'd have to cut his legs off to keep him out the game,'' Morris said.

It was Boyd's legs, along with Clemson's defense, that bailed the Tigers out of this one.

The defense got three interceptions, including two by safety Jonathan Meeks, and twice stopped Virginia Tech on fourth down for its most complete effort of the season. Meeks' first interception led to Boyd's 1-yard TD run that put Clemson ahead for good. Meeks took his second interception 74 yards for a touchdown.

Wake Forest had a strong defensive showing, holding Virginia to 48 yards rushing in a 16-10 victory last Saturday. Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe said his team is getting healthier. ``We haven't been full strength previous to this,'' he said. ``This is what we hoped we would be able to do defensively at the beginning of the season.''

Clemson defensive back Xavier Brewer, who had Clemson's final interception last week, said it was nice to leave the stadium knowing the defense did its job. And he's not that worried about the offense, either.

``It's crazy how they played a bad game and put up 31 points,'' Brewer said sarcastically. ``We're thankful to have an offense that good.''

Boyd thought the offense didn't come out as fired up as you'd expect, maybe because of the off week that preceded playing Virginia Tech. He was glad the defense gave his group some margin for error and picked up the slack.

``In that first half, we didn't do what we were supposed to do,'' Boyd said. ``It just happens like that sometimes.''

Morris earns $1.3 million a season, the highest-paid coordinator in college football, to make sure it never happens like that. The Tigers got off just 67 snaps against the Hokies, well off Morris' goal of 100 plays a game. He's talked with Boyd about staying true to his technique and properly managing the game even when the offensive line doesn't hold up as well as it had before.

Morris said there's little depth on the offensive line so the starters have to work much harder to improve since they're not being pushed by backups. That showed against Virginia Tech, he said.

``We didn't knock anybody off the ball,'' Morris said. ``Holy cow.''

Morris' offense set school records for points and yards gained in Clemson's ACC-title winning season last year. He's confident the team's quick-strike, big-play capabilities will return against the Demon Deacons.

``We haven't had many days like that since we've been here,'' Morris said. ``Hey, great learning experience. Great opportunity for us to bounce back.''

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One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

The Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. While his record at Ohio State was impressive, Haskins didn't log many starts. 

Washington head coach Jay Gruden talked about Haskins back in March during the league meetings, before the Burgundy and Gold drafted the quarterback, and said that because he played just one year in college he would need significant time to learn the NFL game. 

"You would like a guy to play more than a year to see how he’s developed over the years. Haskins has a unique skillset. He’s big, strong and can really throw it," Gruden said. Then, "Is he going to be ready for the first year?"

After OTAs and minicamp, it's obvious Haskins has all the talent needed to play quarterback in the NFL. He's made touch throws and he's rifled balls into tight windows. At the same time, he seemed confused in spots about play calls and struggled with the speed of the pass rush. 

All of that is normal for a player with just 14 starts. But it's that number, the one year of starting experience in college, that makes one statistic stand out about Haskins. 

That's some serious company, both good, bad and ugly. 

As a rookie in 2011, Cam Newton went 6-10 with 35 total TDs and 17 interceptions, not to mention a Rookie of the Year trophy. His running prowess made up for average numbers in the pass game. The more important comparison for Redskins fans is that Newton eventually developed into an NFL MVP and got the Panthers to the Super Bowl. 

For Mark Sanchez, the rookie numbers and the career comparison aren't as kind. Sanchez threw 12 TDs and 20 INTs in 15 games as a rookie, though he was at the helm as the Jets got to two straight AFC title games. Still, for his career, Sanchez threw more INTs than TDs and could not keep a starting job after his rookie contract. 

Trubisky is a different deal. He's only started 26 games since being the second overall pick in the 2017 draft with a record of 15-11. He's thrown 31 touchdowns against 19 interceptions, and run for another five scores. It's hard to describe Trubisky's game. At times he's terribly inaccurate, but in other spots, he looks like a future Pro Bowler. 

Newton is the sure thing, Sanchez is the poor outcome. Trubisky is still to be determined. 

For Haskins, it's not good company or bad company. With only 14 starts at Ohio State before the Redskins drafted Haskins, it's just the company he's in.


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Tomas Satoransky set to enter unpredictable free agent market for point guards

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Tomas Satoransky set to enter unpredictable free agent market for point guards

Of the Wizards' players set to hit free agency on June 30, one who has a good chance to return is point guard Tomas Satoransky. He and center Thomas Bryant are atop the team's priority list with Bobby Portis likely too expensive and Jabari Parker set to enter the market unrestricted.

Satoransky will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Wizards can match any offers made by other teams. And in talking to members of the Wizards' coaching staff and front office, they speak of Satoransky like he is part of their future.

Still, nothing can be assumed and especially in a year in which many teams have money to spend. As Kevin O'Connor of the Ringer noted this week, there is more cap room available this summer than the previous two combined. That could lead to 2016-level contracts where role players get paid like starters and average starters get paid like stars.

What will make Satoransky's market interesting, though, is the fact there are some much bigger names available at his position. At point guard, teams with the most money can go after All-Stars like Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving and D'Angelo Russell. There is then a robust second tier that includes Malcolm Brogdon, Terry Rozier and Ricky Rubio. Then you have Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton, Patrick Beverley, Darren Collison and Rajon Rondo.

It is a great year to be a free agent, but maybe not the best year to be a free agent point guard. The position class is absolutely loaded.

Satoransky, though, will still draw plenty of interest and among the teams expected to check in on him are the Mavericks, Pacers, Magic and Celtics, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

The Celtics have already been tied to Satoransky by Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. But they also have their sights set on some of the bigger fish at point guard with rumors tying them to Walker, in particular.

The Utah Jazz were also expected to pursue Satoransky, but their trade for Mike Conley Jr. has taken them off the list. The Phoenix Suns could also emerge as a suitor, though they are being linked to higher profile free agents at this point.

Both the Wizards and Satoransky expressed interest in a contract extension midway through the 2018-19 season, as NBC Sports Washington reported, but those talks didn't get much further. The Wizards ended up putting a lot of things on hold once they drifted out of the playoff race and ultimately fired team president Ernie Grunfeld.

With senior vice president Tommy Sheppard serving in the interim, though, Satoransky has a big proponent calling the shots in the Wizards front office. Sheppard scouted Satoransky before the Wizards drafted him and was key in convincing him to leave Europe for the NBA.

Satoransky likes playing in Washington and recognizes an opportunity at point guard with John Wall set to miss most of next season due to Achilles surgery. But he also recognizes this as a chance to earn the biggest payday of his career.

How much money Satoransky will ultimately receive is hard to predict. Those in his camp are apprehensive to throw numbers out there because even they aren't sure. He wants a long-term deal and his fit in the rotation is a big consideration, according to someone familiar with his plans.

One potential comparison could be Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who makes just over $9 million per year. Though VanVleet is arguably better, Satoransky is hitting the market with more money to go around. 

Many have tried to project Satoransky's market in the past few months. Soon we will find out just how valuable he is.