Talking offense with Billy Napier

Clemson - Offensive coordinator Billy Napier talks about Saturday's ACC Championship and much more.

Other than a few personnel changes, is this essentially the same defense that you saw in week two?
Napier: There have been a few things that have changed, schematically, from an injury standpoint. Some things have happened to them that they've had to adapt to throughout the season. For the most part, coach Wommack does an outstanding job with their defense. He's got some really marquee guys on that defense. He does a really good job of putting those guys in position where they can be successful. Essentially, this is the same personnel, for the most part. They've improved, just like we've improved. Ultimately, they are who they are and we are who we are. We'll go play the game and see who the best team is.

That game seemed to be a confidence builder for you.
Napier: It helps that our guys played against these guys and they'll be comfortable. Does that necessarily mean that they'll be confident? I'm not sure of that. The one thing we learned last week is that it was another reminder that the team that plays the best on Saturday is the team that's going to win the game. It's not necessarily the most talented team. The team that executes the best, manages the turnover margin and the team that plays with the best energy, enthusiasm and passion is going to win the game.

How much better do you feel about your offensive line than you did in week two?
Napier: We've done several things to help improve our front guys. They're the same things we talk about every week. Freeman making the move to center, Landon emerging and David emerging, having the capability of playing three tackles and four inside guys. Mason's versatility has really helped us keep those guys fresh throughout the game. We're different. We're a different team.

Will you guys be able to get away scoring mostly on big plays like last time? Or will you need some sustaining drives?
Napier: Ultimately, we're going to have to score some points. There's no question about that. How we go about doing that, some people would argue that's significant. Some would argue that's not. However we're going to do that when given opportunities, particularly in the red area, touchdowns are important--rather than field goals. If you have a chance to create some explosive plays, like we did last time, we'll take points any way we can get them. I think it will be critical that we can do both, to some degree. There are going to be times in the game when we need a 12, 13 play drive. At the same time, with some of the skill guys we have, we're capable of creating those one, two and three play drives that can go for touchdowns. Bottom line, points are the most critical in a game like this.

How much concern is there with the offensive line after the game on Saturday?
Napier: I think, if anything, it's a negative. To some degree, for us as coaches, we can use it as a positive. We can remind them they've got to strap it up and go play each week. There's nothing that you've done, so far, that was given to you or was easy. It was a product of your work and a product of your play on Saturday. If you play average and your attention to detail was average, obviously, the quality of the play will reflect that. What was a negative can be a positive, if it brings our kids back down to earth. That was a good piece of humble pie, to some degree.

Are they moving Morgan around any?
Napier: They do. As the season's progressed, they've had to move him around to do some things. Coach Wommack is a sharp guy. He's got some marquee players. He's going to put them in position to do some things. For the most part, he's going to line up over right tackle.

How much has field position allowed your offense to grow up?Napier: A lot, very much so. We benefit from C.J. and our defense--Jacoby as well. Average starting field position is a number that we look at. We get a short field a lot. It's allowed us not to be in a bad situation. It's a reason we've been successful offensively, because we've been given a short field a lot of times. There's no question that some of our success on offense is because of our return game and our defense playing so well.

Where do you feel Michael Palmer has improved the most to be a standout this season?
Napier: He's been given a lot of opportunities. I've always felt like he's very capable. He had a great offseason. He's gotten a little bit bigger and stronger. He's always been very good with great hands. The biggest thing has been that he's a product of three years experience and developed as a player each year. His football IQ makes him a guy that's as critical to the plan as Spiller is. He has so much retention from previous years and games. We ask that guy to do a lot of stuff for us. He's a dependable, accountable guy. He's a great leader that's impacted our team, not only by his performance, but by a leadership standpoint and the intangibles that go along with a guy like that. To be first team ACC, that tells you a lot about the type of player he is and the respect that he gets.

Have you thought about what it means to be in your first year and have all these guys setting records?
Napier: Hopefully, you can keep developing players; keep recruiting that type of talent. Obviously, it starts with a good plan in recruiting. Once they get here, obviously, you've got to have a good plan for your player development. You've got to coach them. Anytime some of your better players playing the best ball of their career, I think that's huge. Top Stories