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Inside the Clemson Offense: Chad Morris' Core Run Plays

I think we now have about all the film on Tulsa from last season that we're going to get our hands on, and I've spent a good bit of the weekend cutting snippets out for a series of posts on the offense that Morris runs. FF and I will be breaking things down and I'll be loading film clips as time permits, but the overall simplicity of the offense is like night and day compared to the Spence system we've been running since O'Cain got run out of town. It is designed to defeat defenses with tempo on top of the horizontal and vertical stretch, but it doesn't try to outscheme the defense per se. There is essentially no difference between this offense and what Gus Malzahn runs at Auburn, so everything discussed previously here still applies. We'll be posting a few explanations of some plays but if you understood the work we put out on the isolation and power/trap, then it'll seem redundant. We have only noticed a few minor differences between the two schemes, and since we've discussed the core plays before, we'll be spending more time this summer on understanding the passing game. For now though, we'll be tying this offense's running game together.

The rush offense is identical to some we've highlighted before, but now they come out of a different formation. It also has a healthy dose of the Wing-T offense. The core plays we've seen are:

  • Inside Zone/read option - with the aim point at the inside foot of the Center. This fits with the zone read game.
  • Power - mostly run very tight to the Center.
  • Counter
  • Trap - often of the 5-technique
  • Iso - less so than the others, but still in the package
  • Jet/Fly series plays - essentially all the above plays but with the slot WR getting the ball on sweeps, counters, and toss plays. This is a core of the Wing T with the IZ replacing the belly play.

In Clemson's spring game, with most of the offense installed, we ran primarily IZ/Read option and a tight version of the Power O play and the corresponding Trap. There were a touch of the Iso and Jet/Fly series, but for the most part all you saw was those three. Everything is based off the success of the zone read, as there is zone read action on passing plays and almost every run play. We ran almost everything from A-gap to A-gap. In my opinion the parts that havent been fully injected are the Jet/Fly series and the passing game. None of Chad Morris' staple inverted wishbone plays appears to have been installed yet.

Also in my opinion, after watching Tulsa film, the real difference between the Morris and Malzahn system is in the Jet/Fly series. For those of you familiar with the Wing-T offense, you'll find tremendous similarity between what Clemson will run with and the old Delaware Wing-T. The only difference is that we'll be using a WR in motion instead of the Wingback and an H-back blocking. The inside zone replaces the belly play. The resemblance is amazing. Tulsa ran quite a bit more plays with the WR getting the ball on jet/fly sweeps and zones than did Auburn. Tulsa had a particularly quick little guy at one of the slot positions that Auburn essentially has with Onterrio McCalleb, but they use them a bit differently. However, I imagine that if Auburn had another guy like Tulsa did at WR, then the two offenses would appear identical.

Does Clemson have this guy? I think so, but all lack experience. I did not see as much in the spring game as I expected to see, and that is probably why. The keys to making this Percy Harvin-type of play work are speed and elusiveness. Joe Craig is that fast. Mike Bellamy is that fast, but would be spelling Andre Ellington too at the RB spot. Sammy Watkins is that fast. I don't think we will have anyone else who could properly run this series of plays. Either of the 2 WRs could end up with as much or more rushing yards as our 2-deep RBs.

The Jet series has small differences with respect to the Rocket and Fly, but they really mean that a WR is getting the ball. The technical difference is derived from the Wing T, and FB goes opposite in Jet, playside in Fly. I have heard it described as having a lead pulling OG in Jet (to seal the play), and a back as lead blocker in Fly. In that sense most of what Morris runs is Jet. Jet comes off of flat motion with a basic handoff from the QB, and Rocket is full speed motion where the ball isn't snapped until the WR-in-motion is even with the RB and then the ball is pitched from the QB. For the purposes of these articles, we don't want to differentiate between them in each play, because that would confuse too many.

The WR will be a smaller quicker guy, sometimes a converted RB who couldn't put on weight or can't take the punishment of steady inside tackling.

I think our strategy for the summer film study of this offense will be to tie in concepts from the Wing-T with the zone read and standard running plays out of spread formations. Then we'll bring in the basics of the quick-passing game and finally the dropback portions of the offense, but everything has zone play action on almost every play.