How much has the offensive line's overall improvement kind of fueled the surge the last four or five weeks when you guys are averaging 40 points a game?
Napier: Everything we do starts up front. If we're capable of effectively running the ball, then, in a perfect world, your run/play-action pass and drop back pass game is a compliment to all of that. In my ideal world, you'd like to rush the ball effectively. That's where it all starts. They're the biggest piece of that puzzle. It's not to say that it's all on them. Obviously, the backs have to do a great job and our tight end/fullback guys are doing an outstanding job. One of the reasons we've been able to create a lot of big, chunk runs are because our guys at receiver are doing a good job on the second level. They've really amped up their energy and effort. We feel like that's one of the reasons we've been able to break a lot of runs. It's a team effort in rushing the football, even at quarterback.
What kind of challenges does the 3-4 pose?
Napier: It's the only team in our league that runs this scheme. It's very unique. It's different. It takes a little more time on Sunday and Monday to get going because you're really studying the defense in itself. Obviously, coach Groh has been running that scheme since he's been in the league. They're doing a great job on defense. He's got a great defensive mind and they're playing well defensively…it's going to be a challenge for our guys. They have a lot of tall players. They are very tall, rangy guys. They're pretty big across the board at outside backer. The two ends are big, tall guys. Their big on the perimeter and they tackle very well. It will be a good challenge for our guys. Our preparation will be critical this week as we get ready for this defensive scheme.
Does it change a lot of what you have to do from a blocking standpoint with combo blocks?
Napier: Fundamentally, some things change. You have your rules set up, so it's not that big of a deal. It's a different scheme. It's a unique thing, in terms of what they do. It does change some things. That's the biggest challenge for our guys in every phase. We've got to get ready to handle this defense. That's what our preparation is throughout the week.
Do they do a lot of zone pressures with the front seven?
Napier: It's a certain percentage of what they do. It's a compliment to just a 3-4 base front. It's not necessarily like last week where there was that 50/50 range in certain down and distances. It's a whole different animal in itself.
Do you have to do anything special this week to keep some of your guys calm because of the hyped up atmosphere that you find on campus and around town because of what Saturday could mean?
Napier: In our minds, hopefully our message has been consistent enough with these guys that every game so far has been exactly like this game. It's our opportunity to advance to the next week. Obviously, this is our last ACC game on our regular season schedule. With the win, we could clinch the division. They know that now. But, it's been the same each week. They've played really well in those situations. The message for our kids on offense: when you get to the game, hopefully you can look back at your week of preparation and be confident, comfortable and know the plan to play with poise and confidence.
Michael Palmer--is there a play that you feel exudes his toughness?
Napier: It seems like I've been locked up in a meeting room with that guy for three years. Mike has a knack, a great football mind. He could be a better coach than I would ever dream of--that's the kind of mind he's got. That's what makes him a good player. He's not the fastest guy. It's all about anticipation. The guy knows everybody's job. He knows the quarterback's read. He knows the front. He knows the defense…he'll make an NFL team because somebody is going to give him a chance. He'll go in there and be coaching everybody on the field before it's all said and done. I remember when he weighed 220 pounds as a freshman. He was out there going blow for blow with Phillip Merling.
Did you see a natural (feel in the pocket) from Kyle Parker in the spring?
Napier: He moves really well. His knowledge of protections allows him to be confident in what's going on schematically. He knows when he has a problem. The term I use, you've got to know your protection problem, if you've got one. Everything we do is built in where he's got an answer if he's in trouble. The biggest thing mentally, as he continues to grow up, he understands the numbers game from a protection standpoint…the guy's got a knack for it. He's 6-foot, but they can either see or can't see. He can see.
Talking offense with Billy Napier
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