ACC: David Blackwell

Clemson makes Brooks' hire official

March, 30, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Clemson has officially hired Dan Brooks as defensive line coach, the school announced on Monday.

Brooks served as defensive line coach at Tennessee for the past 15 years and replaces David Blackwell, who was named defensive coordinator at South Florida earlier this month.

This has been out there for a while, so there's no need to rehash it, it was just a matter of getting the paperwork done. Brooks has been out at practices, so the players are already familiar with him. For the entire release, click here.

South Florida hires former Clemson assistant

March, 12, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

South Florida hired former Clemson assistant David Blackwell as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, USF announced Thursday.

Blackwell just completed his sixth season coaching linebackers at Clemson, and was passed over twice for the defensive coordinator position during that span. In January, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney assigned Blackwell to the defensive tackles. According to Paul Strelow of The State, this move could spark interest in former Tennessee defensive line coach Dan Brooks.

Clemson announces staff assignments

January, 12, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney today announced staff assignments, the most newsworthy being the official promotion of Billy Napier to offensive coordinator. Considering Napier and Swinney called plays together for the final seven games of the season, this shouldn't come as a shock.

It is, however, a big deal for Napier, who isn't even 30 yet (he'll reach that mark in July). Considering he and I are the same age, I'll be the last person to second-guess him because of it. His experience, though, is another matter.

Napier just finished his third season as a full-time assistant coach. He was previously the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, the latter being a position he'll continue to hold through the end of this recruiting cycle. Now he's tasked with helping an offense that was at the root of this program's problems this season, despite its numerous playmakers.

How much better was the tandem of Swinney and Napier than former offensive coordinator Rob Spence and coach Tommy Bowden? Not much, and don't forget they had a healthy offensive line to work with.

Despite the tandem of James Davis and C.J. Spiller, Clemson had just 4 yards rushing in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl against Nebraska and was held to under 100 yards rushing in four other games under the direction of Swinney and Napier. Clemson averaged 85.8 rushing yards during the coaching change and 102 under the previous regime (and that's NOT including cupcake wins over South Carolina State and The Citadel).

Napier and Swinney did average more points -- 23.8 to Spence's 15 -- and had a slightly higher average in passing yards and total offense. The difference, though, was hardly glaring. Of course, they were in a transition phase, but if Clemson is going to rebound, the offense and play calling still needs a makeover, and it looks like Napier is going to give it one.

"We will have some changes next year," Swinney said in a release. "We will basically be a spread-formation team. What will be different next year is that we will use the quarterback more in the running game. Billy is one of the fine young coaches in the nation. He will be a head coach some day."

Swinney made a small but smart move in regards to the offensive line. Brad Scott will continue to serve as associate head coach and he will coach the offensive guards and centers, but Danny Pearman, who joined the staff at the end of the regular season from Maryland, will coach the offensive tackles and tight ends and serve as assistant head coach. Pearman is a former Clemson tight end.

This should help devote more attention to what was an obvious weakness.

Outside linebackers coach Ron West's name is nowhere to be found on the final list of assignments, so he will either find a new job or move into an administrative position. The trendy thing to do these days is name a co-coordinator, and Swinney did that on defense with Kevin Steele and Charlie Harbison.

Here is the final list:

Offensive Assistants
Billy Napier -- Offensive Coordinator, quarterbacks
Danny Pearman -- Assistant head coach, tackles, tight ends
Andre Powell -- Running backs, Special teams coordinator
Brad Scott -- Associate Head Coach, Offensive guards and centers
Jeff Scott -- Wide Receivers

Defensive Assistants
David Blackwell -- Defensive tackles
Charlie Harbison -- Co-Defensive Coordinator, Defensive Backs
Chris Rumph -- Defensive Ends
Kevin Steele -- Defensive Coordinator, inside linebackers

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl preview

January, 1, 2009
Posted by's Heather Dinich

WHO TO WATCH: Clemson's coordinators. Coach Dabo Swinney, who will be coaching in his first bowl game, will also be calling the plays. And the Tigers will depend on linebackers coaches David Blackwell and Ron West to coordinate the defense. How the defense -- particularly the secondary -- responds to its first game without former defensive coordinator Vic Koenning will be important against Nebraska's productive offense.

WHAT TO WATCH: The clock. Nebraska is No. 2 in the nation in time of possession, controlling the clock for 33:60. In order for Clemson to have a chance at winning, they've got to have their playmakers on the field. Clemson's defense should match up well against quarterback Joe Ganz, but it can't be on the field all day.

WHY TO WATCH: It's a matchup reminiscent of the 1982 Orange Bowl, when Clemson beat Nebraska 22-15 for the school's only national title. It's the first bowl game since 2006 that will feature two first-year FBS head coaches. It's also the final game for one of the most talented groups of seniors to come through the program.