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January 13, 2011

New coaches introduced

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CLEMSON, S.C. -- Newly hired Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, defensive ends coach Marion Hobby and running backs coach Tony Elliott faced members of the media Thursday for the first time since taking jobs on the Tigers' staff. The following is an edited transcript from Thursday's press conference.

Q. Are you here at Clemson to stay?
Morris. "I want to thank coach Swinney and coach Phillips for this opportunity, to be a part of the Clemson Tiger family. I'm wearing orange. I am a Clemson Tiger. I can't tell you how excited I am to be a part of this family. I look forward to great things."

Q. You did not interview?
Morris. "I am forever indebted to coach Graham and to that university for believing in me and buying into what I was about. I did have contact with them in regards to the position that's open. I was never offered the position. We had made our minds up Sunday night that we were going to be Clemson Tigers. Once we make a decision, we're sticking to it. Did I talk to them? The answer is yes. We did talk and we did visit in depth. But there were other applicants they visited as well."

Q. If they offered the job, you wouldn't take it now?
Morris. "I am a Clemson Tiger."

Q. What can fans expect from your offense?
Morris. "The No. 1 thing and coach hit on it a few minutes ago … the misconception of the spread. We're going to spread the field. A lot do that, but very few try to put stress on a team vertically. We are a power, physical football team, offensively. We are going to run the football. You better be able to be balanced. You can see the balance we had this past year, but all the way back in my career, too. We were very balanced in my head coaching tenure. You can see a balanced, physical attack, one that takes shots downfield and runs the ball. We're going to do that by going extremely fast and control the tempo of the game. You'll see some two-back set and motioning into a three-back set. You'll see fast-paced, a tempo offense. I can't wait to get back and work with coach Scott, coach Pearman and those guys so that we can talk some ball. I want to build relationships with our staff and our players. If players believe in you, you can line up and run the wishbone and be successful … not that we're going to do that. I just want to create that atmosphere … that we're going to have a lot of fun with this."

Q. You're from Texas. Why Clemson? And why coach Swinney?
Morris. "Knowing the brand of football in the ACC and knowing the history of Clemson and seeing the opportunity right now, it has to be a right fit on both sides. It's like recruiting. What they went through offensively last year … they did some good things and we're going to build on those things. But one thing is the kids are here, the recruiting class we have coming in is unbelievable. And it's just set for success. It's laid out in front of us. It's going to take the right fit, right personality and the only way you know that is to come in and visit and spend time. When I flew in, my wife and I spent time with coach Swinney and his wife and family. It just didn't stop then. We continued to talk over the phone … questions we both had. This was well thought-out on both sides. I think the kids are here. We may only run three offensive run plays in spring ball. And if that's all we get in, that's OK. But we're going to get really good at something. You don't trick people. You line up and you play your style of football and you get good at what you do. I think the potential here and getting to visit with coach Swinney … the sky is the limit."

Q. Have you thought about adapting your system here?
Morris. "We'll run the I some. Football is football. What was successful in high school, it was successful at Tulsa. The speed of the game changes, the players you play with are better so it's about making adjustments and adapting to what our kids can do. I'll study a lot of film on what they did in the past, see what they excelled at. Our scheme is very easy. The sky is the limit. These kids are going to be hungry and I promise you they'll have one of the best off-seasons they've had here."

Q. For Tony, what do you anticipate being the challenges to coaching running backs?
Elliott. "I've been an offensive player my entire life. I've had a chance to see the big picture, so I've got a good feel for the scheme behind the offense. I'm looking forward to working with coach Morris. Skill guys are skill guys. Fundamentals are the same. I have tremendous resources here and I'll tap into them. I'm looking forward to the opportunity. I'm looking forward to the growth, but I don't see it as a big challenge."

Q. You talked about a fast-pace offense. Can you expand on that?
Morris. "We want to get in 80+ plays a game. If you look and study the prior history of a season and you can break down every touchdown and how often it's scored, you'll see that it's scored about one every 15-17 snaps. When you look back at the number of snaps that were in a game with most schools, you look at 60. But if we can get in 15 more snaps a game, we can increase our chances of scoring, even if's ten more points. What would 10 more points have meant to you this year? Is there a definite goal? Absolutely. 80+ plays a game. We won't allow a defense dictate to us. We'll dictate to defenses. Tempo is a good thing in that we'll go extremely fast and at times we'll do a quick huddle. We are going to control the tempo of the game. Sometimes it's fast. Sometimes it's slow."

Q. Do you have any specific ideas on strength and conditioning?
Morris. "Until they get into it and halfway through the first practice when their tongues are hanging out thinking this guy is crazy … Seriously, after we visit tonight and stress the importance of our leadership, it's going to take a lot of hard work between now and the first of March. But until they get into it, then they'll understand it'll be a lot of fun but it'll take a lot of work."

Q. You had a good situation at Duke. Why Clemson? Who contacted who?
Hobby. "Coach Morris has got me fired up here right now. I think I could play for him. I did enjoy my three years at Duke. I thought we made big strides there. I hadn't been back at Clemson until 2008. I loved it here when I was here before. It was tough to leave here to go to the Saints. I called coach Swinney when I heard about the job opening he had. I believe in fate and things happening for a reason. I know I'm in the right spot."

Q. Have you had a chance to look at some of the players on the line here?
Hobby. "I definitely have had a chance to look at them. I recruited some of them when I was at Duke. And I've followed Clemson since I left. I've kept up with coach Swinney. I remember the plan in place for this building before I left. Now I come back and see that it is a reality. I'm excited about it."

Q. Will you recruit in Texas any?
Dabo. "Regardless of where they are, it's about relationships. Him being a coach in Texas for 16 years and one of the top coaches in the history of that state and very well respected, so he'll get a lot of calls. One of the things we do is that we spot-recruit different areas. Absolutely. We'll take advantage of his relationships. He'll get calls on guys, sure. Absolutely. We've already talked about it. We may send him out there a week in the spring."

Q. What's your impressions of the talent you inherit?
Morris. "Tajh and I have talked quite a bit the last few days. During the national championship game, he texted me. I think he's excited. I think his personality and mine have hit off really well. I look forward to meeting them all. Have I had a chance to watch them? No. I got lost on the way to work this morning. I plan on doing that."

Q. Tony, can you talk about the last few weeks for you?
Elliott. "It's been a whirlwind. It was tough to see coach Lamb go through that situation. It was tough to see him forced to step down, and then the uncertainty of not knowing what would happen. I was excited and was ready to go to work. When the transition started down here, my first thought was that I'd like to come here. You just never know. Coach Swinney and I talk regularly because he's one of the mentors that I have. But I wasn't expecting it to happen. I was content. But I'm still waiting for the alarm clock to go off. It's been a mix of emotions. I'm excited to have the opportunity to represent this program. I have the ability to go in and sell who I am, because I'm Clemson University. It's happened to me. I'm very blessed."

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