Talking offense

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Billy Napier discusses the state of Clemson's offense headed into Saturday's game against Wake Forest.

With three or four good running backs, is it a temptation to use the Wildcat?
Napier: Obviously, you watched (Monday Night Football). It's made its way to the NFL. We've done it in the past. Obviously, we've studied Arkansas a little bit. We did not practice it. One of the reasons we have not is because C.J. (Spiller) has been injured during practice time. Procedurally, as far as him directing that, he's been in a green jersey. Plus, we were going on the road, so to have the running back control the cadence, that's been one of the reasons we haven't used it lately. We have discussed it as a staff.

Is a simpler approach needed to get more consistent in games? Or is just execution? What exactly is it?
Napier: Execution has a lot to do with just doing the little things right, getting the very small, minute details right, whatever the play may be, whatever the case may be. That's what's showed up on tape—not great execution. We've got to coach them a little bit better. We've got to do our job a little bit better. We've got to help our players in their preparation during the week. Obviously, our players go and play the game. I think that they have seen where on offense, if you have one guy that makes a mistake that can cost you in having a good football play. That's kind of where we are at. We've got to grow up on offense. Some young players have to continue to develop and live and learn a little bit. I can do a better job coaching our quarterback and preparing him to make decisions. Our whole unit, in particular, can make improvements. It's all about execution when given those opportunities.

Can you talk about how your background has helped you to deal with the things that you've dealt with over the last seven, eight, nine days—some of the criticism and outside talk and having that thick skin you have to have in this business?
Napier: To be honest with you, as a coach you wake up everyday and one of the things that stands out to me is it's tough on you when you lose football games because your expectations are really high for yourself, whatever you involved with and whatever your name's on. More than the outside influence, it's a personal deal that you've got to manage. It's no different than anything you've done in the past. You want to be really productive at what you do. When you're not, it's stressful. For me, having grown up as a coach's son, having seen maybe a bad season here or there or having been around here in the past when maybe criticism has gotten a bit rocky, seeing how other guys have dealt with it—that's been a good experience. This is no different. I think the thing you have to focus on is your standards and what is good enough. Obviously, we need to play better on offense. That's my job to go to work each day and improve. As far as the outside deal, you'd be surprised that we literally come in here and go to work. We're not out there dealing with like you guys go to work everyday. You're in the media market. We work and know what we see on the tape and how we've got to continue to improve and execute better. In all reality, you could easily win one of those three, two of those three and three of those three. You've got to execute a little bit better at certain times and certain opportunities. I think our kids feel a sense of urgency. If you talk to our leaders on offense, they've seen the things that we're trying to do to make a difference and help those guys prepare for their game and coach them a little bit better.

What does the offensive line need to do to help the offense function better in performing what you guys want it to?
Napier: Consistent play. That's just trying to have five guys be productive on the same play. Be five for five, not four for five or whatever the case may be. The continuity helps. If you can nail down your lineup, Chris (Hairston) being out has been a factor. At the same time, those guys that have played have done a better job. We need to just continue to learn from our mistakes. We really preach consistency and execution. It's all about fundamentals. We're really looking at it from a technical standpoint in what they can do. I think consistent play is the key factor.

Have you felt pretty good freedom as far as calling the game plan?
Napier: Coach Swinney and I have a good relationship from that standpoint on game day. He's done a good job of managing the game. I think, obviously, we put a lot of time in our preparation during the week to alleviate that problem. It hasn't been a problem this season, so far.

Is scripting a collaborative effort?
Napier: It is. It is a collaborative effort. It's a staff.

Have y'all looked at expanding the script numbers?
Napier: Yes we have. You're thinking the right way when you say that. That's a good point. That's one of the things we feel we can do better.

In the past, have you scripted the first drive?
Napier: It's down and distance based, just like every football team. It's no different. You try to study the opponent and what they do in certain down and distance situations by personnel. You put what you feel like gives you the best option for that situation. We'll continue to do that…in terms of openers, in particular of the second half, I think we can improve. We are trying to do our job and improve. We're looking for ways to put our players in better position and get guys that can be productive in situations where they can be.

You want to feel like you have plenty of freedom?
Napier: Right. You want to put your name on it, your stamp on it and make decisions. That's not just me but our staff. Our staff feels that way. As time goes, those are the things we figure out.

Do you think as the season has gone on Kyle (Parker) has backed away from (running) and tried to hang in the pocket a little longer?
Napier: I think there are some times when he could have maybe run the ball. I think there have also been some times when he's done a good job managing the clock and making some first downs with his feet. It's really just a feel thing for him and what happens in the game. He's out there trying to compete and make good decisions. I do think we could continue to run the quarterback. Last week, maybe we did some things that prevented it. I think we can continue to try to do that.

Do you encourage him to run more when those situations present themselves?
Napier: We show him the plays where maybe he could have run the ball. But I think that's an experience thing where you get a feel for the game. As time goes, I think his awareness can improve.

How many designed runs do you think you've called where there's an option for him to run?
Napier: A lot of them have been give reads but there has been some of that.
Is there a wide range of ideas on the offensive staff how to (put guys in positions) or are you all on pretty much the same page?
Napier: Just like any profession where you've got to put your minds together and each guy coaches their position and who they feel like the guy is. That's what you try to do. We all understand what young guys can grow up and help us. I think as the season goes, hopefully those guys will step up and make some plays for us.

Your thoughts on Xavier's (Dye) reemergence.
Napier: I'm pleased that Xavier has been productive and has showed up and worked. I hope he'll continue to show that consistency. I think he's very capable. I really hope that he'll come on and be a guy we can depend on as time goes.

Do y'all have the personnel at receiver to play four wide or as much as y'all have been?
Napier: I don't know if we feel like leaving a tight end on the field is better, personnel wise, as is leaving the fourth receiver. We feel like our tight end group is pretty savvy, veteran an capable, maybe better than our fourth wide out.

Is the second tight end maybe even better than the third receiver?
Napier: I think given certain situations it could be. It just depends on the personnel and the play, whatever the case may be. Whatever we've practiced, that's important. As Dwayne (Allen) grows up and becomes more dependable, practices with a great attitude and effort, I think you'll see him out there a lot more.

The South Carolina game last year, y'all just kind of lined up and mashed them with the power stuff. Why is that an aberration over a wide cross-section?
Napier: I think we had a good plan that day. Our kids executed the plan. Plus, you had a different group of guys, a pretty veteran skill group of offensive players. I think because you had a different quarterback, a different set of receivers another back, you had a different set of guys in a whole different situation. They did come to play that day, that's for sure. We have shown that we can run the ball. Here lately, we haven't much as well, Maryland, in particular. I think that has to do with the type of defenses we get. That's probably as much of it as anything.

Why hasn't Chad Diehl been more involved?
Napier: Chad played more earlier than he has lately. I think he's a guy whose role needs to increase. He's done a good job on special teams for us. I think he could play more snaps, for sure. Top Stories