How difficult is it to prepare for a game, realizing that you’re almost going to have to be perfect?
Morris: You’re not going to be perfect. Let’s just get that straight out. You’re not going to be perfect. Our guys, we’re going to put our guys in situation to be successful. They study film, too. They’ve got coaches, too. They’re going to play hard, too. And they’re going to win a few of those little battles that you have. So, our job as an offensive unit is to score one more point than they have. Whether that’s 60 or it’s 10. That’s what our job is. I think it’s important that we all understand that. We’re put out there to do a job. I’m put out there to do a job, to put our players in position to be successful and put points on the board, and for us to win ball games. We didn’t get it done. We had opportunities to get it done.
We had three series to get it done that we didn’t. I’m very proud of our players for how they played and the scrappiness and the battle that they had. We looked back, going through, we had very, very, very few, maybe one or two loafs where players let up right before a whistle blew. Missed assignments, I think we had one. They were playing at a high level, but we had three series in there, it wasn’t all on them.
There was a bad play call in there. I called a couple of bad plays. You can’t go into a ball game thinking that you’re going to be perfect, because you’re not. I can tell you this: we’re going to go into every ball game with a great plan and the intent to put points on the board. We’re going to do that. I don’t care who we play. That’s just what we do, and that’s the confidence level that our guys have got to play at. I’m proud of the way they played. When we had to have the opportunity to make something happen, we didn’t get it done. It wasn’t all on our players. I take some responsibility for that. I called a couple of bad plays on those three key series.
When you see the opposing team scoring at will, do you go about, maybe, slowing down the tempo, to help your defense?
Morris: I think that’s a really good point, a great question. As you look at things like that, you go through the score and look at it -- we were up 28-14, we got back on the field and it was 28-21. Everybody, they’re reeling and trying to make something happen, get a stop.
I thought our tempo, because of us having to win some short-yardage downs -- we knew this going into the game -- that we were going to have to do some personnel changing, probably a little bit more than I really wanted to do. But, because of their defensive front, we had to try to create mismatches with motions or personnel groupings, misdirection things, to win those short-yardage downs. I thought that slowed us down, a little bit.
As far as huddling and really trying to take the air out of the ball, that’s hard. When you’re an up tempo team, to come in and huddle up, do those things, that’s hard to do. What you find is you find you make more mistakes when you try to slow down. That’s not who we are. There is such a thing as letting the clock tick down to 12 and snapping the ball. I tried to do that with motions and personnel groupings.
Do you think it’s fair for people to say you might have gotten away from the run a little bit early, on those three drives?
Morris: Going back and looking at those drives, I remember one, in particular, was a first-down play call, we had a pass called. We felt like they’d shown they’d give us something on the weak-side; maybe get the ball to Nuke. I chose to pass it on first-down. One of the things I was doing, I was showing I was heavy run on first-down. I thought, maybe -- it’s just a chess match. On second-down, we did run it. Tajh pulled one of them and we picked up four or five. Then, we threw it on third-down.
I guess you could look back on it and say that. The first-down play call, I wish I had run it. It’s a bad call. They stayed in two-high look. I was anticipating a one-high look. That was a bad call. That was on me. I don’t think that we got away from the run too quick. I don’t. That series we may have. At that point, you make a move, I make a move. You make a move, I make a move. You try to guess what the next move is, trying to stay a step ahead.
There wasn’t a lot [running room] between the tackles?
Morris: We knew that going in. Those guys, the size they had, they were very big up front. That was the strength of their football team. Their defensive ends, their secondary, there wasn’t many weaknesses that those guys had. We knew we were going to have to be creative. We knew that we were going to have to do a lot of misdirection and be able to try to slow the linebacker play down…freeze their eyes and get the ball out on the edge and, in the same sense, get them flowing and come back in the middle. I think you saw us do that.
Sammy had a couple of 12, 13 yard runs inside the red zone. That’s unheard of, you don’t gash people inside the red zone, between the tackles, and we were able to do that, because we did a lot of misdirection. Andre carried 14 times, Tajh carried it 18 times, but some of those were scrambles and pull downs, keeping drives alive. True, called quarterback runs were about five or six, which were effective. We knew that you weren’t going to be able to line up, knock them off the ball and run right at them.
So that was more about Florida State than y’all?
Morris: I was extremely proud with our offensive line, I’ll tell you that. I was pleased with those guys. Again, did we play effective at the guard position, as we wanted to? No.
Tyler Shatley, was he 100 percent healthy? Absolutely not, but he’s a battler. He was playing and not quite 100 percent.
David Beasley, same way. Kalon Davis came in and spelled him some. Those guys fought and never gave up.
Was Kalon the only reserve that played on the line?
Morris: Yes, I believe that’s right.
What, just a handful of snaps?
Morris: I think that’s right. I think he had 12. I don’t have my notes, but he had 12 snaps, I think. He came in and did a good job.
How long had y’all been waiting to make this move with Eric Mac Lain?
Morris: With Eric, it’s something that we’d, obviously, talked about for a while. It was just going to be the right time. Eric, he’s such an athlete, when you move him into the offensive line, his athleticism really stands out. When you keep him out on the edge and at receiver, you don’t really see that. We’re excited about Eric. You just don’t take a guy and put him in there and say: OK, go learn it. You’re ready to go.
Playing that position, it very well may take all year. It may take all year and all spring. You just don’t know. What we do know, we make that move right now, he can get in there and go through the meetings, get reps in practice and, hopefully, you’ll be in a situation when he’s able to go in and get live action.