Coming off of Clemson's first losing season since the Tommy West era, head coach Dabo Swinney has given his word that under his watch, Clemson will never have another losing season.
Swinney has acted upon his words through the firings of offensive coordinator Billy Napier and running backs/special teams coach Andre Powell.
Dabo has spent the last couple of weeks searching for an explosive offensive coordinator and has found one in Tulsa's offensive coordinator, Chad Morris. In Morris's first and only year as Tulsa's offensive coordinator, he produced one of the best offenses in the nation, ranking in the top 10 for offensive production.
The only concern with Morris has been experience; he has only been coaching in the college systems for one year. However, even at the high school level, Morris had a 169-38 record and coached Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who was a highly touted recruit under his watch.
People may have their doubts, but it appears that Dabo has made the correct hire in offensive coordinator, whether it was Morris or Justin Fuente.
Bringing in Morris has a great number of benefits. First, with Dabo's high-caliber recruiting class, the team is young enough on offense to grasp the new offense for the long term and this will better work into Clemson's favor.
Next, Morris's offense fits Clemson's players well. The system requires a mobile, dual-threat quarterback and the Tigers have that element in Tajh Boyd, who also has an arm to match his mobility. The addition of capable receivers in Charone Peake, Martavis Bryant and Sammy Watkins should only make the offense even better; these three receivers have tremendous upside and potential.
The offense Morris is implementing doesn't only focus on passing the ball either; it retains a focus on the running game, which will still be Clemson's biggest asset with a talented running back in Andre Ellington and Mike Bellamy, who shows great potential in the backfield, a likely No. 2.
A key element of this offense will be the reliance of tempo in the offense. With Rob Spence and Billy Napier, tempo didn't appear to be an element in the offense at all.
Tempo is one of the most important elements in a game; tempo can help to disguise tendencies, and catch defenses off guard; tempo is one of the prime reasons offenses like Oregon are among the best in the nation.
Tempo was one of Napier's biggest weaknesses as an offensive coordinator. The system he ran was slower and easy to read. There was no kind of quick snap to catch a defense off guard, nor any kind of a productive two minute offense. There was also lack of true adjustment and identity to the offense of any kind.
Now, however, Morris is clearly setting the identity for the Clemson offense.
Last but not least, Morris at least brings coaching ability from the standpoint of offenses and running them. Dabo's first mistake (and this is a learning process for him too) was not hiring an experienced offensive coordinator after his interim tag was removed and he assumed full responsibilities as the heads coach.
Swinney has made all of the right moves defensively, acquiring proven, experienced coaches and that result has led to Clemson having one of the best defenses in the nation.
Jumping from just a position coach to a head coach will lead to some tough growing pains for the program and Clemson is expecting too much out of the first two years, as his first 9-4 year and Atlantic Division Title raised expectations higher than they maybe should have been.
But now, Dabo has brought in a top-10 class, made necessary personnel moves and the time has truly come for him to really make progress in his third year as head coach.
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