CFB Insider: Why Chad Morris is perfect for Auburn. Who will Kiffin hire as OC, and more
Each week, Matt Hayes uses his sources around the country to bring you insider knowledge about what’s going on in and around the SEC.
This is what he’s hearing from coaches and NFL scouts this week …
The impact of Morris
Auburn’s hiring of Chad Morris will dramatically change the Tigers’ offense. Gone are the days of bunch sets and multiple misdirection play-action fakes and throws and sugar huddles. Basically, everything Gus Malzahn has tried to implement over the years was only successful with a generational quarterback (Cam Newton) and one of the SEC’s best athletes in the past decade (Nick Marshall) playing quarterback.
Now, everything changes with Morris. Or, as one SEC coach texted me, “Gus got himself a game-changer.”
It was Morris who recruited Deshaun Watson to Clemson and was critical in his development. He has the recruiting heft and history of developing NFL quarterbacks. More important, he gives Auburn a chance to become more multiple offensively.
QB Bo Nix struggled much of this season in the passing game and will benefit most from the hiring of Morris. Auburn will run more spread sets, extending the offense to the perimeter and forcing players to defend the entire field.
Said one NFL scout: “Chad is one of those meticulous, organized teachers. It’s your footwork and your framing and everything that’s important about mechanics and understanding the concepts of the passing game. Bo Nix will get better immediately.”
Kiffin’s Ole Miss offense
The 2 top candidates for the Ole Miss offensive coordinator job are Kendal Briles and Charlie Weis Jr., the two guys who helped new Rebels coach Lane Kiffin win 2 championships at FAU.
Briles was Kiffin’s offensive coordinator in Year 1 at FAU, and Weis was in Boca Raton for the final 2 seasons. Both are candidates for the FAU head coaching job, and Weis – a former NFL assistant – could also be pursued by NFL teams at the end of the regular season.
One of the key components of Kiffin development over the past 3 years was his ability to step away from the offense and be more of a CEO coach. While he still had input on the offense, both Briles and Weis called plays and developed game plans.
Former Auburn quarterback Joey Gatewood, who last week signed with Kentucky, is in the process of trying to get immediate eligibility for the 2020 season. Those close to Gatewood, a dual-threat, former 4-star quarterback, believe he has a “winnable” appeal. One problem: the NCAA is moving toward strengthening transfer rules, a year after multiple appeals were approved that wouldn’t have been in years past.
UK QB Terry Wilson, who missed a majority of this season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, likely won’t participate in spring drills and the hope is that he will be ready for the start of fall camp.
Trevon Grimes and the NFL
Florida is hopeful WR Trevon Grimes will return for his senior season, and become the team’s No. 1 receiver. Grimes will likely submit paperwork to the NFL’s draft advisory board, and his size (6-5, 215 pounds) and speed (sub 4.5 40) could make him an attractive late 1st-round pick.
One negative for Grimes: His college production has been spotty, and in 2 years hasn’t separated from a group of solid receivers at Florida.
Grimes had 32 catches, and led Florida’s starting group with a 15.1 yards per catch average. He has 61 career catches and 5 TDs.
One NFL scout I spoke to says Grimes is an intriguing early-entry candidate because, despite his limited production, he has an NFL body and skills.
“If he was a guy who they focused on (at Florida) and he had 60 catches and 8-10 touchdowns, this is a different story. He’s a lock 1st-rounder,” the scout said. “But there absolutely is the idea of why didn’t he separate from the rest of that group. That’s a really good group of receivers, and 3, maybe 4 of them, will play in our league. He and (Van) Jefferson) were clearly the 2 elite guys.”