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What to expect from Billy Napier’s offense (Part II)

Posted by cuorange on August 12, 2009

Earlier this week we took a look at Clemson’s tendencies under Billy Napier in the last 7 games of 2008.  Now we are digging a little deeper into what happens on 1st and 10 in different areas of the field.
Overall Napier called rushing plays 59% of the time on 1st and 10 and three of the 20 yard segments in the chart below are close to that number.  The two that fall outside of the norm are 1st and 10s from the Clemson 40 to the opponents 41 and from the opponents 40 to the opponents 21.  What’s interesting to me is that these two segments are opposite each in terms of run/pass ratio.
For first downs between the 40s the running plays called drop to 49%.  However, on first and 10s from the opponents 40 to the 21 the running plays called on 1st down shoots up to 76%.

*Please note that for purposes of the chart the opponents 30 yard line is considered the “70”, etc.  Doing this helps the ease of analysis through the database.

Down Distance Yd Line Running Plays Run % Pass Plays Pass % Total Plays
1 10 1 to 19 13 54% 11 46% 24
1 10 20 to 39 30 61% 19 39% 49
1 10 40 to 59 30 49% 31 51% 61
1 10 60 to 79 26 76% 8 24% 34
1 10 (or Goal) 80 to 99 6 60% 4 40% 10

It seems pretty easy to determine what is happening here.  Beginning at the Clemson 40 Napier is comfortable enough with field position to open up the offense a little more in order to get into scoring position.  However, once the Tigers reach the opponents 40 there appears to be a retreat to a more conservative game plan in order to not to lose an opportunity to score.  Less passes called means less chances for a sack or interception.
This gets to the crux of one complaint Clemson fans have had for years:  Conservative play calling when the Tigers are in scoring position, causing an abundance of FGs instead of touchdowns.
It will be interesting to see if this trend shifts this year as Napier installs his own offense vs. running the Spence offense last year.


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