Who is at fault for all of our offensive issues? Like most of you, my first reaction is that the Offensive Coordinator is the primary reason that an offense doesnt "go". But after Bartow's comment that jogged my memory, I'm starting to rethink the situation.
The gist of the comment, which was originally made in the offseason in Spring (i recall it from that time) and resurfaced this week, is that Billy Napier's preference is for a Pro-I style attack, while Swinney prefers more spread formations with multiple WRs.
If you look at the Maryland 1st and 2nd half reviews, you'll see that a majority of our plays are Gun 1B/Ace and Gun 2B sets with at least 3 WRs on the field, with the H-back Ace set coming in 3rd place for formation we run. If you recall, however, a large portion of our offense was run out of the I-formation for MTSU. It has steadily declined through the following 4 games. This much is fact.
What I am hearing from those I know, and yes it is technically heresay so you can make up your own mind, is that Coach Swinney is changing 1 or 2 plays a series from what is called in the booth by Napier. Also, some of the personnel groupings that are sent on the field are not what Napier intends, and don't match the plays called even when Swinney changes them, as well as the entirely wrong play being signaled in, which Swinney takes a part in.
I wanted to put their tendencies into context, given the Bartow comment. Napier was a QB at Furman, two-time All SoCon (2001-2002), and Furman played in the National Title game in 2001 and finishd 12-3. He was a finalist for the Payton award, the Heisman of 1-AA in 2002. Those Furman teams under Bobby Johnson/Bobby Lamb ran a pro-style I-formation attack.
Of course everyone knows Swinney played WR for Gene Stallings and won a national title in 1992. His position coach was Woody McCorvey. Stallings made him a graduate assistant and he stayed on with Mike Dubose in 1997 as a WR/TE coach until Dubose was fired in 2001. Stallings won his title with a pro-style I-formation attack, and Dubose continued it with Woody McCorvey as his OC his first year, but Woody was fired after an awful play call against Auburn in '97. Former Tide QB Tyler Watts comments on Dubose having pisspoor assistants during his tenure here. All of those teams ran a Pro-I formation attack. So both guys we have here come from a pro-style I-formation background, all could throw when needed, usually play-action, but were not pass-happy systems.
What else do we know? Its clear that Swinney believes the Spence system can work. If he didnt think that, he'd have let the entire offensive staff go and hired another outside guy to install a new one. The Spence system is neither entirely spread or I-form running. Its based on high-percentage/constraint passes and zone running games, not the I-formation. Swinney and Napier shared playcalling duties last year, and during the offseason Napier was officially named OC.
The playcalling at the end of last season was ok, and seemed to be coming together as we progressed. Thats my opinion of it, which I think most people shared. I was not enthusiastic about retaining Brad Scott or putting Jeff over receivers.
But now we're in a situation where theres the possibility that the OC and HC dont agree on calls. Now it is 100% within Dabo's power to change a call. I'm glad he will change a play that he thinks is bad. Tommy never changed Spence's stupid calls, even after he took liberties with O'Cain's. Maybe Dabo thinks he must interfere. But if Clemson has a game where we look like garbage on offense, ALL the fans look at the OC, not the head man. People think Swinney has no direct input and has poor people under him, so they want Napier and others fired to placate them. However, if the HC is changing the plays, and those plays make no sense, the fans won't ever know it.
Either way, if the offense fails to perform, Napier gets run out of town. It doesnt matter to the fans whether Dabo is changing the plays and he's the one that doesnt have a clue, they won't hear about it from anyone in the press, so they continue on thinking that Napier is the real culprit and all will be fixed if he's fired.
I'm not saying one or the other should be fired, yet. I do wonder which of them I should blame for playcalls that make little sense whatsoever. If it is Napier, then take his calls away. I dont want them given to Scott, but he's the only one with with OC experience we can use without firing someone. If its Swinney, then he needs to stay out of the playcalling. Three or four plays in a game are fine, but 20% is too much.
I think one of Clemson's beatwriters should step up and press Swinney on this question before we all scream for someone's head on this issue.