Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris laid things out as clearly as he could for the Tigers after their dismal, scoreless second half in a 45-21 loss at No. 12 Georgia this weekend: They are either part of the Tigers' problem, or they'll be out.
Morris said Monday he challenged the offense to execute and work like the Clemson (0-1) attack has for much of his four seasons. Morris does not want to endure another second half like he did against the Bulldogs when Clemson's usually potent offense was held scoreless — a first for Morris in 41 games with Clemson — and managed just 15 yards and one first down.
"If you're part of the problem, you're going to get gone. If you're part of the solution, let's go to work," Morris said. "We don't need you belly-aching. We don't need your pouting. Everybody's hurting this morning. Nobody wants to lose. But you're either part of the problem or part of the solution. Figure it out."
Morris and the Tigers had few complaints in the first half when his high-tempo attack ran 54 plays, put up 276 yards and was tied with the Bulldogs 21-all heading to the locker room.
From then on few things went right for the Tigers. Morris counted 31 missed assignments from all areas on offense. "And it's hard to win like that," he said.
Clemson likely won't have much trouble winning this week, facing Football Championship Subdivision opponent South Carolina State (1-0) on Saturday at home. The Tigers have won two career meetings against the Bulldogs, including a 52-13 victory last week when quarterback Cole Stoudt completed a school record of 19 of 20 passes for 143 yards and three TDs in relief of Tajh Boyd.
Stoudt, making his first career start as Boyd's replacement, took responsibility for the offensive troubles and vowed he and his teammates would solve their issues.
Like most of his teammates, Stoudt struggled the final two quarters. He directed a pair of touchdown drives as Clemson went up 21-14 in the second quarter. Stoudt passed for only 29 yards and was sacked twice after halftime.
Stoudt listened to Morris' strong words and didn't have any doubt what side of things he and his teammates fell on.
"I think everyone in that room believed we were all going to get better. We were all going to improve from our mistakes during the game," he said. "We're going to build and we're going to get better for it."
Morris acknowledged he called a conservative game plan in the third period with Clemson trailing 24-21 and not wanting to make any mistakes that would put the Tigers defense at a disadvantage on a short field.
Georgia took care of that in the final quarter with star tailback Todd Gurley getting his third and fourth touchdowns to put the game away.
Morris kept thinking that Clemson's would get that critical first down or sizeable gain to re-ignite their offense down the stretch. It just didn't happen. "Did it surprise me? Yeah, it surprised me," he said.
The Tigers get some help along the offensive line this week with the return of left guard David Beasley, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound senior who missed the Georgia loss because of a suspension handed down by coach Dabo Swinney in March.
Morris said Beasley gives the line the depth that might've helped late against the Bulldogs.
Stoudt was disappointed in losing his first career start and has stayed away from those on the Internet or radio calling for five-star freshman Deshaun Watson to play now.
"That's just something that will get in your head," the senior said. "And that's something that I don't need."
Morris was proud of Stoudt's play and believes the Tigers will quickly start rolling again if they learn from their errors at Georgia.
The offensive coordinator said: "If it took this to get some guys attention, then you know what? It'll pay off down the road."