By Philip Sikes // Athletic Communications
Don’t tell Chad Morris the Tigers are lacking for playmakers with the departures of quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant.
Sure, the losses are significant, Morris acknowledges. But he’s also quick to point out the cupboard is far from bare on the offensive side of the ball.
“It’s not like we don’t have guys,” he said. “We’ve recruited really well. Our running back group is as good as we’ve had since I’ve been here (2011), but now it’s time to go execute. And as coaches, our job is not to overload things.”
That last part isn’t lost on the Tigers’ fourth-year offensive coordinator. Saturday’s season opener between the hedges in Sanford Stadium against No. 12 Georgia will be the first starting assignment for senior quarterback Cole Stoudt, and the most significant action for several talented players at the skill positions.
One notable exception is wideout Charone Peake, who is slated to play despite missing the majority of August camp recovering from an injury. Peake is a veteran, but hasn’t seen action in a game since last September, and the redshirt junior is itching to get back out on the gridiron with his teammates.
“It’s been almost an entire year,” Peake said. “I wasn’t expecting to miss a lot of fall camp, either, so that has me even more anxious.”
Peake underwent a minor procedure this summer after his initial recovery from a torn ACL suffered last fall. Prior to the second procedure, however, he was participating fully in summer workouts with Stoudt and forming a chemistry with his signal-caller.
At running back, Morris and head coach Dabo Swinney have maintained throughout August that the position is as deep as it’s been in years. That falls under an even bigger microscope considering the news of Zac Brooks’ season-ending injury last week.
“We hate to lose Zac and wish him the best, but our guys will pick up the slack,” Morris said.
Morris’ guys include starter D.J. Howard, now a senior, and converted track & field athlete C.J. Davidson, who reiterated to reporters Monday that the offense can still be successful without established stars like Boyd and Watkins.
“It’s time for players such as myself and other veterans on offense to step up,” he said. “We know we have a lot to prove, but it’s time to show that we can produce without those guys.”
The Tigers will be asked to produce against a Georgia defense featuring new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who controlled Florida State’s national championship unit a year ago.
Morris fully expects to see much of the same tendencies Saturday that the Tigers saw regularly out of the Seminoles.
“Jeremy likes to bring pressure and mix up his coverages,” Morris said. “He does a really good job with it. We have to go out and execute.”
And he’ll be doing it from a new section of the cupboard, one he’s fully confident in.
March 14, 2019