Napier's Notebook

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Billy Napier looks ahead to Saturday's game against the Tigers from the SEC.

Of the 14 scoring drives for Clemson this season, 10 have needed four plays or less to put points on the board.

"I think it's just a product of how our first two games have went for us," Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier said Tuesday.

He's confident that longer drives won't be a long-term issue with a veteran offensive line and a quarterback with 16 starts under his belt.

"Winning third down is very important. That starts with first-down efficiency," Napier said. "If we can keep third-down manageable, it's all those core objectives and goals that we talk about with our players that can allow us to continue drives and keep drives alive."

The longer the Clemson offense is on the field, the dangerous Auburn offense is held in check by standing on the sideline. That's a "dual edge sword" that factors in each game.

"Making sure that defense, given the volume of plays that they may have to play, if you control that, that's going to help you in the long run," he said.

AN EYE ON THE TIGERS: Napier sees an experienced group of players in the unit that his offense will line up against Saturday night.

In all, eight starters return on the Auburn defense from last year's squad.

"You're dealing with a veteran, pretty savvy group that's been a part of some tough games," he said.

It's one that he said is similar to Clemson's.

"More than anything, they're in their second year with coach [Ted] Roof and coach [Gene] Chizik. Obviously they're benefitting from that, just like we are," Napier said. "I think that's evident just watching the first two games. They're a bit more comfortable with who they are and what they're doing defensively."


"Where it becomes an issue is when it's a scramble. That becomes an issue," Steele said of Cam Newton (pictured above). Auburn's defense is coached by former Duke head man and Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof. (AP)
He added a quick synopsis of the defense by position group.

"I think, personnel-wise, they've got many good players. The front guys are tall, long players. I think they play well to their advantage," Napier said.

"They're very experienced at linebacker even though one of their veterans hasn't been playing… I think, even the guys on the back-end, they've had some injuries or maybe not been there, they haven't played a lot of football for Auburn."

WIDE RECEIVER ROTATION: The number of game day reps for each member of the eight-man rotation at wide receiver will be dictated by practice performance this week.

"I do think some of those guys are showing that they're capable. They had another good week," Napier said. "They're making the layups."

"At this point, we'll continue the way we have the first two games."

The depth chart released earlier this week lists Xavier Dye, Jaron Brown and Marquan Jones as the starters at wide receiver.

RIGHT TACKLE DEPTH: Backup right tackle Phillip Price suffered an ankle injury in last weekend's game versus Presbyterian.

His status remains questionable.

"I think Phillip's going to go [at practice Tuesday]. He's somewhat limited, but he is going to go today," Napier said. "I don't anticipate any major changes there."

THE NEW STORM: Expect Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington to get the lion's share of the snaps at running back Saturday night.

Of course, that's no surprise.

In other words, touches for Roderick McDowell could be few and far between.

"Not to say Rod isn't capable. There may be a niche for him, given what happens during the game," Napier said. "I do think we'll ride those two horses as long as we can."

Ellington and Harper combined for only six carries in Clemson's 58-21 thrashing of Presbyterian Saturday.

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