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Chad Morris: Clemson offense can, will be better

Associated Press Modified: September 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm •  Published: September 3, 2012

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris liked just about everything he saw from the Tigers in their first game.

He expects to see much more as the season goes on.

Morris said No. 14 Clemson's 26-19 victory over Auburn this past Saturday night was nothing more than a strong start to a long season that continues this week with the Tigers' home opener against Ball State (1-0).

The second-year assistant was pleased with the play of his offensive line, which features three new starters and helped the Tigers rush for 320 yards. Andre Ellington had a career-best 231 yards on the ground and receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught a school-record 13 passes, including the 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that put the Tigers up for good.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd did his best job in two years of managing the game and making the right plays when things broke down around him, Morris said.

"All it was a great start," Morris said Monday. "It was a really good first game and, 'Whoop-dee-do,' now we've got to go on to the next one."

The biggest surprise was the solid performance of the offensive line against Auburn's more experienced defenders. Converted defender Tyler Shatley, David Beasley and Gifford Timothy all made their first starts for the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champions. Tight end Brandon Ford was also taking over for last year's All-American Dwyane Allen, a third-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts last spring.

There were some bumps — Boyd was sacked four times in the opening half — but the group settled down to anchor a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives.

And few were more surprised at the performance than Morris.

"There were some times in fall camp, it was pretty intense" searching to fill out the line alongside returning starters, center Dalton Freeman and tackle Brandon Thompson, the coach said.

Morris was particularly pleased with the group's communication at executing Clemson's fast-paced schemes. The Tigers snapped the ball 92 times against Auburn and Morris said the lineman kept pushing to go faster. There were more knockdowns than Morris had seen in his two seasons at Clemson.

"I think we all saw the same thing," Morris said, "but we're not ready to name them the seven blocks of granite."

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