Riley Focused on Dumbing Down the Tigers’ Offense

Garrett Riley Jason Priester All Clemson

Garrett Riley has had an impressive run as an offensive coordinator prior to joining the Clemson Tigers.

Three years as an offensive coordinator prior to his arrival at Clemson at SMU (2020-21) and TCU (2022), all three Riley offenses finished in the top 15 nationally in scoring offense. His units as the coordinator at SMU and TCU from 2020-22 combined would rank third in the nation in points per game in that span at 38.6 points per game, trailing only Ohio State (44.0) and Alabama (43.0) in that stretch. 

Riley’s 2022 TCU squad led the FBS with 22 plays from scrimmage of 50 yards or more. He envisions that same explosiveness being central to Clemson’s new offensive identity.

“We’re going to be violent and fast,” Riley said. “I think it starts there. No matter if we’re in the passing game or the run game, we’re going to attack.”

Riley will inherit an offensive line that returns four starters, one of the nation’s most versatile playmakers at running back and a highly touted quarterback whose skill set and mentality fits Riley’s aggressiveness. 

However, unlike what a lot of people may think, Riley’s scheme is to not increase what the Tigers have done over the last 10-plus years, it is to, in fact, ‘dumb it back’.

“I think more than anything is let’s get good at a few things and let’s grow from there. Let’s just kind of dumb it back down, start fresh, and gain an identity early,” Riley said. “Let’s come away with an identity offensively. And that will grow. Don’t get bored with routine. Don’t get bored with doing things over and over and over again. That’s something our guys have to buy into. And we have so far, but we’re early in spring ball and it’s easy to do early, so we’ll see how we progress or if we can sustain that all the way through.”

For Riley, the less is more philosophy will help the Tigers not only learn his Air Raid offense, but also will help the Tigers create buy-in on offense.

“Mentally, I think you obviously want to see some results that come along with that (repetition) and can kind of validate why you do some things and I think we’re seeing that early on through spring practices,” Riley said. “The other thing is when you do so few things and you just do it over and over again, all of sudden you can move players around and they know what to do. You can take that receiver that’s always on the left, and you may have an injury on the right so you need to move him over, well because you’re doing the same stuff all the time, that receiver knows what to do over there. He has seen it on tape over and over again. Now that kind of gives you some flexibility to move guys, so that’s another part to it as well.”

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