CLEMSON --Billy Napier, second in command of the Clemson offense, works inside a first-class, third-floor staff room inside the new WestZone showcase at Death Valley.
"I call it the S.S. Napier," Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said. "Our offensive staff room, you walk in there and every wall from ceiling to floor is covered with boards. We're kind of stealth right now."
Secret plays. Basic diagrams.
The room is full of ways to score points in football games.
But make no mistake -- while Napier is Clemson's offensive coordinator, the head coach reserves the right to abruptly take over during the Tigers' Sept. 5 opener against Middle Tennessee.
"Billy will call the plays," Swinney said, "but as I told the staff, there will be times where ... I mean, I can't get away from certain instincts. It's just my background. There are just certain times I may just say, 'I got it' and I may call a series. Or I may just change a play."
This could be fun. Or messy.
Maybe a little of both as Clemson goes through a season with rookie starter Kyle Parker at quarterback playing behind offensive linemen eager to improve on the Tigers' poor blocking performances of 2008.
Billy Ball, or not
Napier, a former Furman quarterback, just turned 30. He is the youngest coordinator in Clemson history.
Swinney had never been a coordinator or head coach until promoted to interim head coach when Tommy Bowden was ousted last October. In Swinney's first big move, star-crossed offensive coordinator Rob Spence was let go. The Swinney/Napier duo essentially ran the offense over a 4-3 stretch drive, beginning with a 21-17 loss to Georgia Tech.
"We're much more comfortable since the Georgia Tech game," Swinney said. "Billy and I are on the same page. I say, 'Here's what I've set forth' and 'Here's what I want to do' and he's done a great job of operating within those guidelines."
Put on the orange-colored lenses.
Parker might play better than you expect from a redshirt freshman. Parker, son of former NFL wide receiver Carl Parker, is "a cool customer," Swinney said.
Tailback C.J. Spiller and wideout Jacoby Ford are two of the fastest players on our planet.
Swinney calls redshirt freshman Andre Ellington (Berkeley High) "a practice field legend."
Remember, N.C. State's Russell Wilson as a freshman last season was the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team quarterback.
But calling plays under the gun against Georgia Tech or Florida State is different than hypothetical office work.
Feelings fray under pressure.
Plans go out the press box window.
Things unsnap between snaps.
"I'm going to try and not disrupt the flow of the game as much as possible," Swinney said. "But, certainly, it's going to all come through me. If I just don't like it, we just won't do it."
Last season, Swinney and Napier were limited by time and personnel.
"When you're in the middle of a season and you have seniors and you say, 'Here's what they know,' you kind of have to operate within that," Swinney explained.
An offseason later, the new guys have a new master plan. Part Swinney. Part Napier. Part Bowden.
Probably a whole lot of C.J. Spiller.
"We've been able to marry a lot of things I thought were important in the offense to things we've done well in the past," Swinney said. "We've done some really good things around here offensively. Now I just think we have the best of both worlds."
Sounds good on paper.
Looks good on the walls of a new staff room.
For Clemson fans and fans of Tiger opponents, the two-headed play-calling will play out as a game worth watching within games.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 843 937-5593 or email@example.com.