Napier's Notebook

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Billy Napier previews Saturday's clash with the Eagles.

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IMPROVEMENT ON FIRST DOWN: Coming off the Georgia Tech win, Clemson coaches spoke of the improvement in execution on first-down plays.

At the West End Zone on Tuesday, Napier said it was the preparation during the week that led to the solid first-down performance.

"The assistant coaches on offense, I thought did a great job getting their units ready. Every unit played well. I thought they had some good ideas," Napier said. "I think our players had a great week. We had a great week of practice last week. It was probably the best Tuesday, Wednesday combination—two good days in a row there."

Leadership in key areas helped out, too.

"Saturday was a product of their work. I was really excited to see, not only our players respond, but our assistant coaches did a great job, too," he said.

LANDON WALKER: When asked for a specific player that stepped up, Napier named Walker.

"I think he understands that it's a one week at a time deal," Napier said. "He's got an appreciation for the process of getting ready to play a game, studying extra, getting in here early each day. He values the communication up front."

Just over a year ago, Walker's attitude was in need a nudge in the right direction. Now, he's one of the more respected players on the team.

"He's a product of his experience," Napier said.

Even with the departure of Chris Hairston, Napier doesn't foresee a switch from right to left tackle for Walker.

"I think he's a right tackle. I think he'll stay right there. Landon's a guy, who's right where he needs to be," Napier said. "He's a big, tall guy that uses his length well. He has become a technician…he's getting the most out of what he has."

TAKING A LOOK AT B.C.: Head coach Frank Spaziani spent nine seasons as the Eagles' defensive coordinator before moving into his current position.

Not much has changed on the defensive side of the ball in the two seasons under his direction.

"The same blueprint," Napier said. "They've always been good on defense, and I think they're good now. They have had quite a bit of turnover recently, in terms of personnel. The scheme is very sound."

"I've got a lot of respect for what they do and how they do it. It presents a really good challenge for our players, and it's going to take great preparation to get them ready to play."

The Boston College run defense ranks fourth in the nation with an average of 83.6 yards per game.

"I've got a lot of respect for what they do and how they do it," Napier said. "It presents a really good challenge for our players, and it's going to take great preparation to get them ready to play."

He called it "a sound, disciplined" group that utilizes a lot of pre-snap movement up front.

"Their blitzes are run blitzes. They're designed to stop the run. They know that. They've done that since I can remember watching Boston College defenses," Napier said. "They do a great job of formation adjustment, understanding how the pieces fit together."

A CHANGE IN MARK HERZLICH?: Before delving into his thoughts on the former ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Napier expressed the respect he has for Herzlich, whose battle with Ewing's sarcoma has been well-publicized.

"It's a lot more than I've ever had to deal with," Napier said. "I have a lot of respect for the way he's gone about his business.

"He still plays with that same passion that he's always played with. He's still a big, tall, long athletic guy that causes problems. Emotionally, you can tell that they lean on him."

Herzlich is fifth on the team with 29 tackles and second with two interceptions.

The former middle linebacker now plays on the strong-side.

Luke Kuechley, Herzlich's replacement in the middle, leads Boston College with 56 unassisted tackles, which is more than the total number of tackles made by anyone else on the Eagles' defense.


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