CLEMSON -- To inject life into Clemson's listless air game, offensive coordinator Billy Napier indicated the Tigers might emerge from their bye week with an altered appearance.
The beneficiaries of a makeover could be the team's tight ends, in particular redshirt freshman Dwayne Allen. Napier said he is thinking about deploying more sets featuring two tight ends.
"Dwayne Allen is a guy we gotta get going," Napier said. "He's a guy you've got to live and die with at a certain point.
"Let him go. Let him grow up."
Clemson has scored just two touchdowns over its last 13 quarters. The Tigers have produced seven offensive touchdowns in five games, and C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford have combined for nine of the team's 11 touchdowns.
The Tigers desperately need other playmakers to emerge to diversify the offense and take heat off Spiller and Ford.
Prior to the loss at Maryland, Allen clamored for an opportunity, calling the Tigers a "two-man offense." And with a secondary target yet to emerge from the wide receivers corps five weeks in, Clemson might start distributing passes elsewhere.
"I think tight end is where we can do that," Napier said.
After Spiller and Ford, Allen might be the offense's most dynamic pass-catching talent, and yet he has just two catches for 17 yards with one touchdown.
Allen has sure hands, can pluck the ball with ease away from his body and "plays fast" according to Napier. On a third-and-34 situation at Maryland, Allen flew down the center of the field, beating several defenders on a straight-line route, showing rare speed for a 6-4, 255-pounder.
Had Kyle Parker's pass been accurate, it might have been a touchdown.
Recall Allen was a major figure in the Tigers' heralded 2008 recruiting class. He was ESPN's No. 3 overall tight end, 80th overall prospect and was recruited by Napier.
"I think he is going to be an unbelievable player," Napier said.
Allen is a player who could create mismatches in the middle of the field, improve the red zone offense and provide a safety valve for Parker.
However, Dabo Swinney is not sold on a major role for Allen.
"He's got a chance every week," Swinney said. "He's got a chance every day on the practice field to do the right things.
"Dwayne Allen is no doubt a guy who can help us. But we have to do things right. There are a lot of things you have to do in order to get the ball."
If Allen's tools translate to him becoming a viable, center-of-the-field option, Spiller might see major residual benefits.
Spiller is dynamic when matched up on linebackers and safeties in the passing game, averaging 15.7 yards per reception. But Spiller has only 10 catches through five games, after averaging 3.1 receptions per game last season as a part-time player.
When asked why he hasn't seen more opportunities in the passing game, Spiller said: "You'll have to ask Kyle. I just go out there and do what the play (requires) ... the quarterback has to make reads and the running back is usually the third check."
Swinney said Parker missed Spiller on several occasions at Maryland.
While Spiller has also been more involved in pass protection this season, Parker said defenses have keyed on taking Spiller out of the passing game.
"They are going to eliminate those matchups when they have a linebacker on C.J.," Parker said. "We try to get him out of the backfield catching balls as much as we can. I think people are getting (locked) in on him.
"If we get him matched up one-on-one, I'm definitely going to him."
But if the Tigers had a middle-of-the field threat like Allen, defenses would have less resources to throw at Spiller and Ford on the perimeter.
"We are absolutely trying to get him as many opportunities as we can," Napier said of Spiller. "They know where he is and I would, too. That's where we have to have other guys besides him and Jacoby. Some of younger players have to step up."
The next audition might belong to Allen.
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