After Clemson struggled to manage just 210 total yards in its loss to Nebraska in the Gator Bowl, some questioned whether Billy Napier was ready to be the guy driving the Tigers' offense in 2009.
But Dabo Swinney has never had such thoughts, and Monday Clemson's new head football
coach announced Napier will indeed be in charge of his offense.
"I just think Billy is one of the bright young coaches in this business," Swinney
said. "My gut, my instincts (tell me) I think he is one of the bright coaches and I
think he has a great, great future as a quarterbacks coach, as an offensive
coordinator and I think one of these days he will be a head coach.
"That's what I see in Billy. He can do the job. He fits with me well, and that is
what I like about him."
Like Swinney mentioned, Napier will also stay in charge of the quarterbacks, a spot
he filled when Swinney fired Rob Spence shortly after he was named interim head
coach for former coach Tommy Bowden. Napier will also be in charge of recruiting at
least until this current recruiting season is over next month.
Working closely with Swinney and calling plays during the last seven games of the
2008 season, Napier gained Swinney's confidence and showed enough initiative and
innovation that Swinney felt he deserved a shot. It also helped that Swinney and
Napier have worked closely together for much of the six years Swinney has been in
"I have worked with him five out of my six year here. I've watched and I know him,
and more importantly he knows me," the Clemson coach said.
"That's very important to
me. I think having some continuity is a good thing, especially where my comfort zone
is because obviously I have to do certain things that I believe in."
What Swinney believes in is being more aggressive on offense and he wants his
quarterback to be more involved in the running game than how the Tigers have used
that position the last six years.
"I really believe that you have to have an athletic type of quarterback," he said.
"As you watch around the country and you watch people that are winning, defensive
linemen, and I don't care how good you are up front, but defensive linemen are just
really, really good and every now and then your quarterback has to be able to do
some things to create problems for them to where they will have to account for him."
Clemson will start the spring with four quarterbacks that fit the bill. Swinney said
he will have a plan put together that will give quarterbacks Willy Korn, Michael
Wade, Kyle Parker and Jon Richt a chance to compete.
"This is a game of competiveness," Swinney said. "We have guys with outstanding
potential, but it is also a game of performances. You have to perform. We will
create a competitive environment this spring."
Also look for the Clemson offense to be a little more up tempo than it has been the
last several years. Swinney hopes he and the entire staff can go out and visit
schools like Texas and Oklahoma this spring and add their philosophies to what he
sees for his offense.
As for how and who calls the plays, Swinney says he is going to cut Napier loose and
let him be creative, however, with a watchful eye.
"I will try to give him a little more as we move forward," Swinney said. "I felt
like I needed to have my hands on it greatly the last half of the season. You know
this job was on the line and I just wanted to make sure things were done the way I
wanted them done.
"Everything came through me. I changed some plays and called some without even
giving him a chance and then a lot of times I went with whatever Billy wanted, but I
will try to maybe just step back a little bit and cut him loose and let him do what
he knows how to do.
"He will do a great job. He really proved himself to me in critical situations this
As for the rest of the staff, Andre' Powell will stay on as running backs coach and
special teams coordinator, while Danny Pearman, who joined the staff prior to the
Gator Bowl, will be the assistant head coach and will coach the tight ends and the
Brad Scott will stay on as associate head coach and will be charge of tight ends and
centers as expected, while his son and former Clemson player Jeff Scott will stay on
as wide receivers coach. The younger Scott took over for Swinney as the wide
receivers coach when Swinney moved into the interim position.
On the defensive side, Swinney announced that Charlie Harbison will be the
co-defensive coordinator, along with Kevin Steele, who was named to the staff on
Friday. Harbison, who coached in the Gator Bowl as well, will also coach the
defensive backs, while Steele will be in charge of the linebackers.
As expected David Blackwell will coach the defensive tackles and Chris Rumph will
coach the ends.
Ron West, who has coached at Clemson for the last 10 seasons, is currently going to
an administrator in the football offices, but he is still involved in several jobs
outside of Clemson, including a reported co-defensive coordinator's position at
Napier as O.C. Finalizes Staff
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