Garrett Riley feels like he already understands the pressure cooker he’s walking into this year as Clemson’s new offensive coordinator.
The winner of the 2022 Broyles Award, given to the college football’s top assistant coach, helped TCU produce a top-20 offense that went all the way to the national title game.
Heading into his first year at Clemson, he gets that fans expect him to turn the Tiger offense into something special right away.
“Pressure is pressure. We know it’s going to be there,” Riley said Wednesday during his introductory press conference. “Try not to put any more on yourself. The expectations I think you put on yourself are always probably a little higher than your fanbase. That’s just how we’re wired as coaches.”
Does that mean Riley expects Clemson to take a major leap offensively? He probably doesn’t take the job if he doesn’t.
Riley was hired in January by Dabo Swinney to give the Clemson scoring attack the boost it needs, especially with a young quarterback in Cade Klubnik and a yard-producing running back in Will Shipley. More scoring, more explosiveness, and a simplistic system that takes advantage of the personnel are what both Riley and Swinney were selling Wednesday.
Clemson ranked in the top 30 nationally in scoring and 48th in total offense in 2022. The Tigers were among the best in the red zone and racked up a ton of first downs, but there were too many times when the run game disappeared and some positions didn’t develop well enough.
So Swinney, who said he came to the realization at the end of the season, fired OC Brandon Streeter and hired Riley. The 33-year-old heading into his fourth season as a playcaller got a taste of big-time pressure last year in the College Football Playoff.
Now, he steps into a program that before the last two years had been in the CFP six consecutive times. Getting back there is a big reason Riley was brought to Clemson.
“There’s always pressure,” Riley said. “That’s just how I look at it. That’s the job we all signed up for as coaches in this day and age, certainly at this level.”
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