Experimenting with the Pistol

CLEMSON – The pistol formation made its debut in the Music City Bowl win over Kentucky last December and was rolled out once again in Death Valley during Saturday's scrimmage.

Offensive coordinator Billy Napier has plans for the formation to be a more regular part of the offense later this fall.

"Certain plays are better in the pistol than maybe offset, in the gun. (There are) certain schemes we use with that pistol look," he said.

At this point in the spring installation, Napier said that's the part of the playbook that's being added now.

"You saw some more of that today and all the complimentary things that go with that," he said. "That'll be a little bit of a phase we use at times."

With Kyle Parker sitting out of Saturday's scrimmage in Death Valley because of back problems, Tajh Boyd was once again the exclusive leader of the first team offense. Both he and Michael Wade, who quarterbacked the second team offense, ran several plays out of the pistol formation.

Whether it's under center or in the shotgun, Boyd doesn't have a preference.

"I think I'm comfortable either way. Once you get those guys twisting and stunting on the d-line, the shotgun gives you a little more time to go through everything," he said. "Everything's still moving at a fast pace."

A week ago, Boyd had taken a step forward with his performance during the scrimmage in Death Valley, improving throughout the morning. Against a stingy Clemson defense in Saturday's scrimmage, the redshirt freshman struggled.

"It's just one of those things that you can't really worry about. You've got to keep on working," Boyd said.

The highlight of the morning was a 25-yard touchdown pass to Andre Ellington, but Boyd threw interceptions to Marcus Gilchrist and Jonathan Willard, finishing 4-of-11 for 39 yards.

Napier and head coach Dabo Swinney concur that Parker was a little further ahead at this time last year than Boyd is now.

"Kyle's quarterback coach for two year is now the quarterback coach for the Cleveland Browns…Kyle's got a bigger foundation of football," Swinney said. "The great thing about Tajh is, that's OK. That's our job to coach and teach.

"The thing I like about Tajh is he's capable. He learns and he'll work at it. He's going to be fine."

Disappointed with the performance of the offense, Napier called the scrimmage "a step in the right direction."

"I do think that Tajh made some mistakes today. He made a few bad reads," he said. "We'll go watch the film. That's what it's all about. We've got four games worth of offense in right now."

And, as he pointed out, it is only April. There's plenty of time for Boyd to learn from Saturday's mistakes.

"As a unit, we've just got to keep growing, keep getting better," he said. "I know that we have a lot of veteran guys and I'm the rookie. I'm just going to try and do my part."

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