Clemson University

Swinney plans to run offense his way

Damiere Byrd at South Carolina's practice and scrimmage held Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Damiere Byrd at South Carolina's practice and scrimmage held Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, at Williams-Brice Stadium.

CLEMSON — Making substantial offensive changes wasn’t a viable option for Dabo Swinney during his in-season audition — not, at least, if Clemson was to collect the victories he and other staff members needed to retain their jobs.

Now that Swinney has an offseason to put his stamp on the offense, he said changes will be more philosophical than schematic.

Swinney, who had previously shed little light on his offensive preferences, said Monday that he plans to use the quarterback more as a running threat — a strategy that plays to the strengths of the two candidates for 2009 starter, redshirt freshman Willy Korn and freshman Kyle Parker.

“We’re not going to be Tim Tebow, but there’s times in the games you need to involve your quarterback,” Swinney said. “I just think, if you make the defense account for the quarterback today the way defenses are, it’s like you’re playing with 12 on offense.”

Swinney said he is also interested in incorporating a faster tempo to Clemson’s offense.

To that end, he plans to take the offensive staff to visit this spring with coaches at Oklahoma and Texas, both known for their prolific spread offenses.

Spiller update. Swinney said junior running back C.J. Spiller is “going back and forth” about whether to turn pro. Thursday is the deadline for underclassmen to declare entry in the NFL draft.

“One thing about C.J., he’s pretty thorough, and he’s never been a guy to rush into something,” Swinney said. “He’ll make his decision when he’s ready.”

Swinney said to his knowledge, none of the other juniors who petitioned the NFL’s Advisory Committee for a draft projection — namely receiver Jacoby Ford and cornerbacks Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor — were considering leaving.

Setting the staff. Swinney laid out complete staff assignments Monday, confirming the presumption that 29-year-old Billy Napier would serve as offensive coordinator.

Swinney said he did not entertain looking for a veteran assistant to counsel Napier, although it could be argued director of football operations Woody McCorvey, formerly Mississippi State’s coordinator, could serve that capacity.

Other staff changes of note:

 Secondary coach Charlie Harbison was given a co-defensive coordinator title, although the defense figures to be in newly hired Kevin Steele’s hands. Steele is listed only as defensive coordinator.

 With Steele assuming the linebackers coach duties, former inside linebackers coach David Blackwell will oversee the defensive tackles. Former defensive line coach Chris Rumph will handle just the defensive ends.

 Ron West, formerly the outside linebackers/bandit ends coach, has interviewed for Presbyterian’s head coaching job as well as defensive job on Tulsa’s staff. Should West return, he would serve in a yet unspecified administrative role.

 Napier will relinquish recruiting coordinator duties after signing day. Jeff Scott, who will remain as receivers coach, is expected to get the title.


Assignments for coach Dabo Swinney’s assistants.

Coach Job
Billy Napier Offensive coordinator, QBs (acting recruiting coordinator)
Andre Powell Running backs, special teams coordinator
Jeff Scott Wide receivers
Danny Pearman Offensive tackles, tight ends and assistant head coach
Brad Scott Centers, guards and associate head coach
Charlie Harbison Secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator
Kevin Steele Defensive coordinator and linebackers
David Blackwell Defensive tackles
Chris Rumph Defensive ends