Second year means everything

CLEMSON – Even with C.J. Spiller, Jacoby Ford and Michael Palmer, there was genuine concern over the lack of production by Clemson's offense during preseason scrimmages in 2009.

The quarterback situation was also unsettled. Redshirt freshman Kyle Parker was the favorite, but he had zero experience. The offensive line had questions along its right side and possessed little depth. Many believed Ford couldn't handle the load as the top wide receiver target, especially with so many young receivers around him.

Statistically, Clemson's offense struggled in the second intra-squad stadium scrimmage of 2009.

Parker, Willy Korn, Tajh Boyd and Mike Wade combined to complete 17-of-29 passes for 181 yards. Rendrick Taylor was the top rusher with eight carries for 33 yards and a touchdown. Jamie Harper had eight for 29. Roderick McDowell rushed four times for 15 yards and a touchdown.

The numbers improved drastically from the second scrimmage in 2009
to the second scrimmage in 2010
.

"It's the second year in every area. Not only with our players but in the program, in general," said Billy Napier, who's entered his second season as offensive coordinator. "There's a comfort level with what we're doing, how we're doing, why we do it that way, how we're organized as a staff, how we meet, what the expectations are."

It showed on Saturday.

Parker completed 10-of-14 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns. He led the first-team offense to four touchdowns overall. Boyd hit on 9-of-17 for 63 yards and two scores. Wade was 2-for-3 for 85 yards and a touchdown.

McDowell led all rushers with 127 yards on 12 carries, including scoring runs of 12 and 53 yards. Demont Buice chalked up 10 carries for 36 yards and Andre Ellington had five for 24 yards. Harper carried eight times for 24 yard and scored on a one-yard touchdown run.

"This is my second year. I feel like any person and any player is going to be better at the job if you're taking the right approach in the second go-round. I think it's got a lot to do with that," Napier said. "I think our kids have a really good attitude. There's a humble work ethic."

Monday morning took a turn, though. Napier said the session was a little too "casual" and "lackadaisical". He wants to see better consistency in focus.

"I think it's human nature for you to think you've got it figured out when you've had a good scrimmage," Napier said. "Today, this morning, we weren't very good, in terms of our execution and focus on the things we put in this morning."

But as the end of camp comes to a close, there's little doubt that offense is clicking better now than it was this time a year ago.

"I think we know who we are on offense now, in terms of the concept that we're running," Napier said.

Parker now has 14 starts and 20 touchdown passes under his belt combined with six players with starting experience return to the offensive line, including four from the ACC Championship game.

Plus, the duo of Harper and Ellington could be joined by McDowell, who's emerged as the third running back. Tight end Dwayne Allen is the top threat at receiver. He and some six or seven other wide receivers have been charged with picking up the slack in the passing game.

Another year has allowed for Napier and the rest of the staff to educate those returning players on the same set of "core objectives and concepts."

"Our message has got to be the same," he said. "We showed last year, when we do execute and do these things, we can be effective. I think they believe in the way we're doing and what we're doing.

"Now it's just a matter of playing consistently each week, taking care of the football and making good decisions at quarterback. Hopefully we can be physically and be a tougher, smarter team this year."


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