Getting into the minutiae of schemes and terminology can become a tedious if not confusing exercise at times for football coaches, players and fans that follow along.
On Wednesday, Kyle Richardson, Clemson’s tight ends coach and passing-game coordinator, detailed some of the differences coming to the Tigers’ new offense that he figures will be easy for the naked eye to pick up. Clemson is nine practices into installing first-year coordinator Garrett Riley’s air-raid system, which the public will get its first chance to see in the spring game April 15.
Richardson started with a change to the way the Tigers plan to attack teams through the air that doesn’t require much studying or analyzing to notice.
“I know we’re going to throw the ball downfield more than in the past,” he said. “There’s a lot of crossing routes and intermediate (routes) in between the hashes, that part of the concepts. So you’ll see probably more balls in the 10- to 15-yard area in the middle of the field.”
Richardson is the latest person to point out that Clemson’s receivers won’t be switching sides of the field from one play to the next. Not only will that help the offense get lined up faster before each snap, but Richardson said the group should also look tidier doing it.
“You won’t see a bunch of people running around to get lined up,” Richardson said. “We get lined up quick, and then from there, we can either run the play quick or we can just run it at a normal tempo. But we’ll be able to get lined up quicker and not just be all over the place and be kind of herky jerky to even get lined up to start the play. That will probably be one of the bigger things that you’ll see.”
The intended effectiveness of the passing game reaches beyond the obvious. Assuming Clemson can hit more consistently on shot plays, Richardson said that should naturally create more room to operate for a running game spearheaded by Will Shipley and his running mate, Phil Mafah.
“Because what’s going to happen is you’re going to lighten up that box because of the threat,” Richardson said. “Not necessarily what the percentages are, but the threat of you being able to throw the football at a high level is going to loosen that box up because (defenses) have got to come out there and defend. And now you’re going to get Phil, you’re going to get Shipley, you’re going to get them on five-man boxes or really loose boxes just because of the threat of the pass.”
Richardson said the offense’s objective under Riley’s direction is to simply put its best players in position to make plays more consistently.
“It’s just easier to do that when you’re not kind of locked in a box of this play has to be this and it has to be these people on the field and they’re stuck where they are. That’s not really how this is,” he said. “This play may be that, and we may do this, this, this and this and move this guy around in three or four different positions three different times, but it’s still this play. The quarterback doesn’t care where they’re all at. He just knows this play.
“It allows somebody like (receiver) Antonio (Williams) where we go into a week and we go, ‘How can we get ‘Ton on their worst DB without changing the offense? How can we get (tight end Jake) Briningstool on their worst interior defender without changing the play?’ That’s probably what you’ll see a little bit more of.”
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