Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said his offense's success over the first eight games of the season formed a confidence bubble. The bubble burst at N.C. State on Saturday.
In trying to explain how his offense has entered what he described as a "tailspin" in recent weeks, Morris said he thinks some hunger has eroded.
"I think it's that when we started the season, some players (thought) 'I'm battling for my job, I'm battling to prove that we can do this that we can be a top team,' " Morris said. "I thought it was a us-against-the-world mentality. Eight games in we saw confidence level grow so big. Everyone in the country was telling them how good they are, sign this for me, sign that for me. ... We as coaches have to do everything we can to keep them grounded. There was almost a sense that 'I've arrived.' "
Morris expects execution and performance to improve at South Carolina on Saturday.
"I promise you it will get fixed," Morris said. "It's not what this offense has done eight games into the season, it's not what this offense has done (in past seasons) it's not the way it is going to end, I can promise you that."
Morris said he fully expects freshman receiver Sammy Watkins to be able to play at South Carolina. Coach Dabo Swinney expects Watkins to fully participate in practice today. Watkins is averaging 103.4 receiving yards and one touchdown per game.
One reason why Clemson has been losing steam down the stretch? The Tigers have already played a season's worth of snaps. Clemson has run 846 offensive plays this season in 11 games nearly matching last season's 13-game total of 866 plays.
Morris said the coaches talked to players about the Oklahoma State upset loss to Iowa State before boarding the team bus on Saturday in Raleigh.
"We talked about Oklahoma State game in the pre-game meeting," Morris said, "we talked about matching energy levels."
The wrong kind of 'Shock the Word Tour' stop
"The first eight games we were playing to kind of shock the world and try to prove everyone wrong," said right tackle Landon Walker. "Saturday everyone said we had nothing to play for and that's what it looked like on the field."
TE Allen named finalist for John Mackey Award
Tight end Dwayne Allen has been named one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award. The Mackey Award is named after the former Baltimore Colts and Syracuse great and is presented to the top tight end in college football. The winner will be announced in Orlando, Fla., at the College Football Awards Show on Dec. 8.
In addition to Allen, Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and Georgia tight end Orson Charles are also finalists.
Allen has 45 receptions for 536 yards and five touchdowns this year. The junior has already established a Clemson record for receptions and reception yards in a season for a tight end. He broke the records of 43 receptions for 509 yards by Michael Palmer two years ago. Palmer is now with the Atlanta Falcons. Allen is two touchdown receptions short of Bennie Cunningham's record of seven set in 1974.
Allen, a native of Fayetteville, NC was named the John Mackey Award Tight End of the Week for Clemson's victory over Auburn when he had seven catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. He also had six catches for 51 yards and a score in Clemson's win over North Carolina. Allen has had at least four catches in eight of the 11 games so far this season. In October, Allen was named a midseason first-team All-American by CBSSportsline.com and ESPN.com.
Allen is the first Clemson tight end to be named a finalist for the John Mackey Award.
From wire reports