The task at hand

CLEMSON - Billy Napier feels privileged to be considered for the vacant head coach job at Furman, but he's focused on this week's game against South Carolina.


What's transpired with Napier and the Furman job over the last two days has been well-documented. On Tuesday, he wouldn't say much about the possibility of replacing Bobby Lamb, who he played for at Furman.

Below is an edited transcript of Napier's weekly interview with reporters in the West End Zone.

Do you plan on talking with Furman next week?
Napier: Whatever happens next is what I've got to do. Whatever they want to talk about, we'll go from there. That's really all I'd like to say about it.

Business as usual then this week, other than the news that broke yesterday? You just have to do what you normally do in any other week?
Napier: Yeah. Obviously, South Carolina has a really good defense. They're the East champion in the Southeastern Conference. They've had a great year. Obviously, they've got some good depth. They've recruited well. They've got some veteran guys. A lot of the same guys we played against last year have improved, made strides to get better individually. I think that's led to a better group defensively. That's a great challenge for our guys. We're extremely excited about the opportunity to play. For our seniors, it'll be their last home game. It's our last regular season game. Obviously, there's a lot on the line, it being an in-state rivalry.

They're not a very good pass defense, but sack the quarterback a lot. Don't sacks go hand-in-hand with stopping the pass?
Napier: They've been banged up, at times. They're still relatively young back there. Those guys played as freshman last year, now are having to play in their second year. There's a little bit of youth in the backend. At the same time, they've been winning a lot of games, near the end of games. That leads to other teams being put in situations where they have to throw the ball consistently, at the end of games, in desperation situations. That leads to pressures and sacks, as well. It's a product of the type of tam that you have, and where you're at in each one of those games, as they come to an end. They're good on defense. Coach [Ellis] Johnson has been around. He's a heck of a football coach.

Is it tough moving forward with so much uncertainty around Andre Ellington?
Napier: The last two weeks, we've been really solely basing our running back position off Jamie Harper. He's played a large number of snaps the last two games. If we get Andre back, that would allow us to give Jamie a breather, and see how healthy he is and effective he can be. Today will tell us a lot about where Andre is at. The kid's done everything we've asked him to do, from a rehab standpoint…I think he's trying to get himself in position to give our team a spark. That's the kind of guy Andre Ellington is. If I've got something left in my tank, then let's empty it right here, one more go-round. If I can contribute to the team and make our team better, I'll do that. I think that's what he's trying to do. Whether he'll be able to do that in the next three or four days, I'm not sure, but I think it's impressive to me that he's willing to suck it up, go through a little bit of this pain, little bit of adversity, and try to get back on the field. I'm pleased with his effort in trying to do that.

Does Jamie get better as he gets into the flow of the game?
Napier: It seems that he's been able to do that. The thing that stands out to me, when you think about Jamie's career, how experienced is he really as a back? When you think about his freshman and sophomore year, how many carries did he really have? Then, you get into the split role, Andre was more effective and the feature guy. The last few weeks, there's been no doubt. He's shown up to be the back, get himself ready. I think you've seen him improve through experience, managing the game as a ball carrier, keeping that down and distance on schedule. I think Jamie's benefitted from the playing time and the experience. He's learned to be more effective as a runner. He's a big guy. He can lean on you.

If Kyle Parker would have been here all summer working with receivers, do you think it would have been different? Do you think it would have sped the process up?
Napier: When you talk about the quarterback position, two or three times a week for about eight weeks, throwing and catching with your teammates in the summertime. I know, what little ability I had, it would have been possible for me to be effective, if I didn't have that summer to get ready. I think it's a huge factor. It's really remarkable. It shows you what kind of ability he has, to come out there the first day of practice—hasn't thrown a ball since the spring game, just kind of see him get a little bit better every time he goes out. He's a special athlete. He's got some innate abilities. Each season has been a product of who's around him in his preparation. Four out of the last five ball games, he's had really good days. We need him to make everybody around him better and set the tone, from a preparation standpoint. Top Stories