Talking offense with Billy Napier

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Billy Napier talks about the state of Clemson's offense four games into the 2009 season.


What was the issue in the red zone against TCU?
Napier: I think this game in particular our players will tell you they had opportunities to make plays. We did punch when in down there when we had an opportunity. That's good to see that our guys took some ownership there. We had a timeout before that and they really showed some ownership there. They said, ‘Let's run this play.' We went with it and they got it done. That was a good decision. The other opportunities were really just a product of guys going and making plays. They'd tell you the same thing. We missed a field goal down there and obviously we had to kick a field goal there early, on one possession...we just missed a few key throws there. I think as Kyle (Parker) grows up, he'll make those throws in the future.

A couple of the offensive lineman have said that they saw C.J. (Spiller) running with the kind of authority that has not been typical of him in the past.
Napier: He's definitely playing his most physical game as a rusher. It's just a fanatical effort. He's making a consistent effort to play hard and physical. He's finishing runs. There are a few here or there where he could have maybe stuck it in a little bit. Compared to maybe what he's done in the past, it's much better. He's realizing when it's a little bit dirty and pulling it up in there. He's been very impressive.

What has it meant to have him on the offense this year? It seems like in a lot of ways he's really carrying this offense on his back right now with the big plays that he's making
Napier: He's the guy that we have that's extra special. Everything is centered around making sure that he has an opportunity to go do what he's doing and that's produce and giving our team its best chance to win. He's been a little bit beat up. I'm proud of the way he's prepared during the week to get his body ready. We'll continue to give him the ball. He can make us be productive. Each plan starts with him and goes from there, throwing and catching the ball. We've made a consistent effort as a staff to make sure that he's getting his touches as a rusher, pass catcher and in the screen game. No question, he's the guy.

Is 26 carries going to be a high for Spiller?
Napier: It just depends on how the game goes. We're going to stay committed to it. It's the type of team we are. He's a great back. That's the type of team we are. He's capable of being explosive at any time. When you start dishing the allowance, he gets a pretty good portion of the allowance each week. He's the guy that we want to make sure gets his touches…I think he can carry more than that.

As well as the defense has played, is that going to keep you guys in a conservative, let's not lose the game with a crazy play kind of mode?
Napier: For the most part, besides the Georgia Tech game, it hasn't really gotten out of hand. It's allowed us to be consistent. As long as the down and distance is in order, I think we're capable of being balanced. The good thing is we did respond in the Georgia Tech game. It showed the capability of throwing and catching. That's a good thing. There's no question that's a luxury to have. It keeps you from having to become one dimensional. You can stay patient. You can continue to give (Spiller) more opportunities to rush the ball. That's part of the game, part of the plan of our team. There's no doubt about that.

Jeff Scott sort of indicated yesterday that you needed to sort of whittle the receivers down to three or four who are really consistently working with the ones to really develop some cohesion. Is that a focal point at this point?
Napier: I still think there's a lot of competition there. He's probably thinking in terms of coaching his position. I do think that's a factor. We're keeping those guys throwing and catching together as much as we can. It's a really small group. I think there are seven scholarship guys. It's not a really huge group to choose from. I think that's part of the deal. Those three or four, that's changed every week. From here on, we hope the guys continue to have good weeks and stay in the same groups. Whether it does, I don't know. I think that's up to who shows they're the most consistent player.

Any sense of why that you are having more of the break downs or missed opportunities in the running game when you get to the red zone?
Napier: I think some of those are probably on me. Understanding that the field has gotten smaller down there, and that they can be riskier in calling those kinds of things. I do think you've still got to try and run it down there. We took some shots last week…we proved to be capable of getting down there.

Is this the role you envisioned (Andre) Ellington having coming into the year?
Napier: I'm a guy that's trying to do more with Andre. That's one of the guys I think we could maybe use a little bit more to get him going as the season goes. Jamie (Harper) is good to. But I think Andre is the guy who's definitely prove—once he's gotten his opportunity—that he could be an incredible player. I thought he had a great preseason. I'm really impressed with him. I think that's a guy, as a staff, we're going to try to utilize a little more…I think he's going to be a guy you see us use, similar to last week with the tight ends.

What are some of the strengths of Maryland's defense?
Napier: They're very well coached. Obviously, they've lost a lot of players from last year's group. They have a new coordinator and it's completely different from the previous staff. There's not a lot of carry over there from last year. He does a great job mixing his fronts. I think they do a good job on defense. They did better last week after really struggling early on. They had a young group going out to California. Last week, they played their best game on defense. They're growing up. That's what I see on tape. They have some really talented safety/linebacker guys.

Does Parker sometimes try to squeeze a pass?
Napier: He's getting adjusted to the speed of the game and trying to get his bearings. It helps practicing against our guys. I think he's forced only that one throw against BC on that second possession. That's the only one I think he's really tried to force in there using his arm strength. But he's missed some guys…I think it's fundamentals, really getting specific stuff. Top Stories