Clemson Offense Set to Get Air Raid Makeover

A major shift is about to take place at Clemson.

Offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter is out and Dabo Swinney wasted no time in getting his replacement on campus, as Garrett Riley flew into town just hours after Streeter’s departure was made official.

Clemson’s offense has regressed over the past few seasons. There is just no other way to say it. And it started long before Streeter took the reins.

In Streeter’s only season calling the plays, the offense improved dramatically over its production in 2020. However, it still lacked the explosiveness it had become so well known for.

What the Tigers have been doing on offense has gotten stale. A complete overhaul is needed, and probably a year overdue. And that isn’t on Streeter. He inherited the offense. At the same time, he’s probably not the guy you want revamping things either.

Enter Riley, the Broyles Award winner who just led TCU on an improbable run to the national title game. Yes, the Horned Frogs got their doors blown off, with the Dawgs totally shutting the offense down, but you are going to be hard pressed to find a coach that has never had his rear end handed to him at one time or another.

What Riley’s offense did do was lead the nation with 19 plays of 50 yards or longer. More than half of those went at least 60 yards. That’s the kind of explosiveness the Tigers have lacked the past two seasons, under two different play callers.

Riley is an Air Raid guy. Well, sort of. He runs a variation of the offense that the late Mike Leach ran. It features lots of motions that focus on creating mismatches. It exploits the middle of the field, and most importantly, the running game is one of the primary focuses. With those two running backs the Tigers have, that is a good thing.

Riley is also known for his success in developing quarterbacks. Max Duggan was a Heisman finalist at TCU this season, after starting the season on the bench. He also helped develop Steve Buechele at SMU. During his two years with the Mustangs, those offenses finished each season ranked in the Top 15 in total offense and scoring offense.

It also pairs passing game coordinator Kyle Richardson with someone who shares a similar background. Richardson, who is considered one of the brightest offensive minds on Swinney’s staff, also ran a version of the Air Raid while dominating the high school ranks at Northwestern.

With spring practice set to begin in less than two months, there is now a renewed sense of energy surrounding the program. There’s enthusiasm, something that was lacking after the dud Clemson laid in the Orange Bowl loss to Tennessee.

A new and exciting offense. A new guy running that offense and calling the plays. A new quarterback. A wide receiver room that, while fairly young, is loaded with dynamic playmakers. Oh, and one of the best one-two punches in the country at running back. Yes indeed, spring practice is going to be fun in 2023.

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