Talking offense with Billy Napier

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Billy Napier previews Saturday's game at N.C. State.


Is it as simple as suggesting N.C. State is similar to Florida State, except they play more zone coverage?
Napier: They're similar, defensively, maybe to Boston College, there are similarities to Wake Forest. You can see O'Brien's thumbprint on the defense and how they've evolved the past couple of years. Obviously, they do a heck of a job in coaching their guys. They're more of zone coverage. They play a lot of fire zones and zone pressures. All of that is irrelevant. It's about which team executes the best and which team has the best preparation and which team is ready to play. The players have to go play and we have to get them ready to go play. We had a really good practice and meetings (Monday) and got ahead a little bit. Today will be a big step in the right direction.

When do you think quarterbacks typically show the most improvement?
Napier: I think it's between the first and second year. I think that's any football player. The improvement they make between the first year of significant playing time and the second year. One example would be Antoine McClain is a much better player this year than he was last year…David Smith, Mason Cloy and Landon Walker are better players. They went out there, maybe stumbled around a little bit, got hit in the mouth a couple of times and thought it's not as easy as they thought. They have that experience and that memory of what it took to play consistent, winning football. Their preparation from the very beginning of the offseason to next season reflects what they've got to do to get themselves ready. The more times you get to do that, the more experienced you are.

What has Xavier Dye done since his departure to get back into the flow of the offense?
Napier: He's just shut his mouth and showed up to work everyday. He's a great kid. He stopped complaining, stopped blaming everybody else and stopped looking for an injury or an excuse every time something went wrong. He finally realized that if this thing's going to happen, it's going to because (he's) going to make it happen. It's part of that growing up and first year of significant playing time. It was a little bit bumpy. He's getting coached really hard everyday. It's thickened that skin up a little bit. His standards are higher than anybody else. He doesn't care what anybody thinks. It's just showing up going to work, earning the opportunities, making the plays because he's prepared to make those plays.

You talked about the learning curve for younger players, does that hold true for younger play callers?
Napier: Absolutely. I'm no different than a Xavier Dye or a Kyle Parker. Look at it how you want to look at it, but that's a fact. I'm just like any of you guys. You're first year doing your job, you were probably better mid-season than you were your first couple of articles. It's not only better with myself, but with the group and players. We had staff devotion. I talked about a couple of things football related and my faith. It's what's relevant right now. There's only so much time between the last snap of the Florida State game and the first snap of the N.C. State game. There are only so many ticks on the clock. What are you spending your time doing? What's going to impact how you play? If you're wasting your time with a lot of things that won't impact your play on Saturday, then you're wrong. What's relevant with what we're trying to get done? Where are we wasting time? What can we do to get more out of our work? It's just like you do anything--you try to get efficient at it, better at it. You try to motivate and discipline better. It's just like any profession, you're consistently looking for a competitive advantgage.

Did your self-confidence ever waiver?
Napier: I wouldn't say self-confidence, but maybe confidence in how you are doing things waivers. You're looking for answers. You try to remove yourself and look at it objectively and try to say, not that I didn't think I could do it, but how am I going to get this thing done? What do we have to do? That's where your question marks are. I think it's more job related. What are the things we can do to make this thing go.

Is it how to get the most out of it?
Napier: It's like building a house. You've got to put together something--you're trying to build it the best you can with what you've got--fitting those pieces together. It comes down to first-downs, points, not turning it over, capitalizing on red zone opportunities, creating explosive plays. You've got so many players, your scheme. They've got their defense. It starts over every week. We've played good for a couple of weeks, but if we play bad Saturday, it's not relevant. You try to go every week. I've learned that much, for sure.

Is there anything you've learned on the job, not in the offseason?
Napier: Probably the biggest thing is you get to where you don't give a crap what anybody else thinks. You just get like you were when you were a player. He's yelling at me, I don't care. Let's go play the next play. Going into it, I felt, man, this is a big-time deal. You think about that a lot. Ultimately, you learn that, who gives a crap? Let's go play. You get to where you don't really care what anybody says. You know, ultimately, you've got to get them ready…if it's not good it's going to be negative--whoop-de-do.

How much have you been in contact with your dad who's a coach?
Napier: I talk to him a lot. He probably talks more than I do when we talk. He's doing the same thing I'm doing. He's spending his time and energy at work to get ready for his plan that week. We talk a lot about stuff like that. He's been doing it forever. He's told me before, good or bad, it's on you, so you better get it right. It's no different than doing recruiting or coaching your position. Whatever your job is, you'll find a way to make it happen. That competitive nature has been there for a long time, being around, watching him coach.

There probably aren't too many families with the offensive makeup that yours has?
Napier: Yeah. That's what we do. My brother coaches at Callaway High School in Georgia…my other brother is at Tusculum College, coaching receivers. That's what we grew up doing. That's what we do.

What are some of the wrinkles you've had to iron out?
Napier: Allowing myself time to come up with ideas and prepare for my meetings by delegating more things to the staff. Throughout the week, there were maybe things I was doing that wasn't relevant…I gave up some of those duties I didn't need to be doing--carding up practice, scripting certain parts of practice. It's a first-year deal with a lot of new guys, typical things you go through. The routine is grooved in. Coach Swinney has done a good job at being consistent with us. Top Stories