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Clemson Swinging For The Fences

Clemson Swinging For The Fences

Dabo Swinney may be one of the most stubborn coaches in college football when it comes to his beliefs on the game. He may get Quixotic when it comes to player movement or how compensation for Name, Image, and Likeness gets players paid. One thing he is not though is complacent when it comes to on-field results for his team. So, it came as little surprise with Clemson swinging for the fences with changes at offensive coordinator for the upcoming season.

Who’s Out and Who’s In

Gone is Brandon Streeter. He was officially relieved of his duties after just one year as offensive coordinator. He’d been with Clemson as an assistant coach since 2015, and he played quarterback for the Tigers from 1995 to 1999.

Coming in will be, (it is not yet official), Garrett Riley, the offensive coordinator at TCU. The Horned Frogs finished the season at 13-2, having just lost the national championship game to Georgia earlier this week. Riley is credited with creating an explosive offense for the Horned Frogs with quarterback Max Duggan, an unheralded back-up when the season started. Riley was the winner of the 2022 Broyles Award given to the best assistant coach in the country by a panel of voters.

A board of trustees meeting has been scheduled for Friday at Clemson to approve Riley’s contract.

The Streeter Era

Streeter was the quarterback coach at Clemson from 2015 to 2021, getting credit for helping develop the likes of Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. He took over as offensive coordinator when Tony Elliot left to become the head coach at Virginia for the 2022 season.

He was part of the significant changes Swinney had to make going into 2022, having to replace both coordinators. In addition to Elliot leaving for Virginia, longtime defensive coordinator Brent Venables left to become the head coach at Oklahoma. Swinney promoted from within in both cases. He elevated Streeter to offensive coordinator and bumped up defensive analyst Wes Goodwin to the defensive coordinator’s spot.

Swinney made a point, at ACC Media Days in July, of talking about promoting from within. At the time he talked about how promoting from within creates more of a family atmosphere within the program.  He said the assistants needed to have the hope that they were worthy of moving up within a program.

Streeter is the first assistant Swinney has fired since 2011. He dismissed defensive coordinator Kevin Steele after giving up 70 points to West Virginia in a 70-33 loss to the Mountaineers in the Orange Bowl.

Changes Needed

Swinney issued a statement through the school after Thursday’s firing of Streeter. “As the leader of this program, I am accountable for our staff and accountable for our results, and though we took a step forward offensively in 2022,” the statement read. “After evaluating our offense in-depth, I felt it was in the best interest of our program to seek new leadership at that position. These decisions are never easy, but it is my job to evaluate and assess every part of our program every year, and this was just the right time to make a change.”

Clemson was 48th in the country in total offense, averaging 410 yards per game as the Tigers went 11-3, won the ACC, and lost the Orange Bowl to Tennessee, 31-14. The passing offense was anemic. The Tigers were 66th in the country in passing offense as former five-star quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei continued to struggle running the Clemson offense for the second year. He was replaced as the starter near the end of the season with Cade Klubnik. The freshman threw for 697 yards on 100 passing attempts for the entire season.

In the face of a passing game that was inconsistent at best, and often non-existent at worst, Streeter was often criticized for not relying on the running game more. Will Shipley ran for more than 1,100 yards on the season and averaged five-and-a-half yards per carry. But the Tigers’ use of Shipley, and the run game as a whole was erratic. Despite having a potential future All-American at running back, Clemson finished the season 47th in the country in rushing.

Riley’s Record

Riley was the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for Sonny Dykes at SMU for two years. The SMU offense ranked in the top 15 in both scoring and total offense in both years with Riley as the play caller. When Dykes left to go TCU for the 2022 season, he brought Riley with him. The Horned Frogs went from 5-7 in 2021 to national runners-up in 2022. TCU finished 27th in the country in total offense, averaging 455 yards per game, in a season that often required late-game come-from-behind wins.

The formal announcement is expected Friday.

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