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Cardinals, Tigers looking to push the pace

Associated Press Modified: September 7, 2012 at 11:02 am •  Published: September 7, 2012
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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Ball State's offensive style has an admirer in Clemson coach Chad Morris.

While the hyper-drive Tigers got off 87 plays in their season-opening victory over Auburn, Ball State had 96 plays on offensive in its win against Eastern Michigan.

Morris may get to take a few notes Saturday when the 12th-ranked Tigers (1-0) face Ball State (1-0) at Death Valley.

The Cardinals are a team after Morris' heart — a snap-and-go marvel that had a school record 36 first downs in their opener last week. Morris liked what his team did on offense, too, in the 26-19 win against Auburn. The group set school records for points and yards gained in 2011 and Morris said his players kept asking to go even faster in their opener.

"Nobody better get a drink," Morris said. "The concessions stands are going to be empty."

Clemson and Morris established an offensive flow last season where fans learned you had to stay glued to the attack so you didn't miss anything. And, behind quarterback Tajh Boyd and All-America receiver Sammy Watkins that usually meant Tiger touchdowns.

But Watkins will be absent again, sitting out the second of his two-game suspension for an offseason drug arrest. DeAndre Hopkins made up for Watkins' production with a school record 13 catches for 119 yards. Hopkins also had the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, a 4-yard grab in the corner from Boyd.

Tailback Andre Ellington finished with a career high 228 yards on 25 carries.

Morris said his players have embraced the fast pace so far this season, something that wasn't always the case last year despite its record-setting showing.

Morris was particularly pleased with the offensive line, which featured three first-time starters in Gifford Timothy, David Beasley and Tyler Shatley.

"I didn't want to go out there and disappoint anybody," Beasley said. "So I played as hard as I could. We were pretty well conditioned."

Freshman Shaq Anthony will start in Timothy's place against Ball State. Timothy re-injured his knee near the end of the Auburn game and had not practice through Wednesday.

Clemson equipment staff has also been busy this week, fitting Boyd for a helmet that shouldn't come off — something that happened three times against Auburn and made him sit out the following play per new NCAA rules. One instance without Boyd was a 4th-and-goal play from Auburn's 1 where Clemson chose a field goal instead of trying for a clinching TD.

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