The Billy Napier Offense: Preview
To begin, the offense Billy Napier and his staff run is best described as one that is deliberate, tactical and calculated. In its simplest design, it forces the opposing defensive staffs to create a solid game-plan during the week, while making on-the-fly adjustments during the game. The offense is primarily a balanced offense with an emphasis on scheming an efficient rushing attack to open a vertical passing attack. Napier also manufactures an advantage by simply creating one-on-one matchups for his athletes and by attacking a defense at its weakest areas. In all, his offensive ingenuity accomplishes success by simplifying his quarterback's pre-snap reads and forcing opposing defenses to play with a small margin for error.
Multiple Offensive Personnel Packages
Napier features a variety of different personnel packages in his offense for a number of reasons. First, it allows his offense to operate in multiple ways depending on the different athletes and positions he chooses to place on the field. At the same time, as mentioned above, a multiple approach increases the amount of game-planning and preparation a defense is tasked with diagnosing pregame and during the game. Secondly, it allows Napier to get his best players on the field at the same time. For example, the 2022 offense is likely to feature packages that emphasize a dynamic rushing attack with run/pass-options available. Lastly, his offensive personnel packages force the quarterback to make sound decisions while limiting the opportunity for turnovers and/or mistakes. Napier's multiple offense is truly a "complete roster" philosophy in allowing every player, regardless of position, to operate in a complimentary manner.
12 Personnel - 1 Running-back, 2 Tight-ends
Now, let's diagnose these packages. First and foremost, the "12 personnel" grouping is a staple of the Napier offensive scheme. 12 personnel is simply football lingo for an offense that operates with one running-back and two tight-ends on the field together. This grouping successfully accomplishes two of Napier's main concepts: create open gaps for the running attack and/or create an immediate vertical passing threat (see below examples).
12 Personnel - Rushing Gaps
12 Personnel - Four Verticals
The figures above highlight a few of the dilemmas opposing defenses will find themselves in whilst defending a 12 personnel grouping. Simply put, if the defense is playing aggressive with eight defenders near the line of scrimmage to defend the run, the pass catchers will attack vertically up the field. Conversely, if a conservative defense decides to play off the line of scrimmage to limit the pass, the offense can attack by running the ball. Napier will run a manifold of different plays out of this set. Last season, Florida Gator transfer running-back, Montrell Johnson Jr. scored a 99-yard touchdown against Arkansas State out of this grouping:
11 Personnel - 1 Running-back, 1 Tight-end
Moreover, Napier will also run a combination of formations out the 11 personnel grouping, one running-back and one tight end. Dan Mullen ran the spread offense out of the 11 personnel package, and this set is one of the most common groupings in modern football. The personnel grouping is specifically tactical for Napier, for he uses it to gauge his opponents scheme by motioning his players across the field. A motion may seem insignificant to the watcher's eye; however, it allows the players in Napier's offense to move with a purpose. Furthermore, the movement of the offensive ball compels the opponent to shift and move as well. Thus, the quarterback can dictate how a defense is defending and where the weak areas will be.
In the example below, the "Y" receiver motions across the formation to receive the forward pitch. The defense is slow to communicate the man responsibility. By the time the receiver has the ball, the linebackers are too far inside to recover. Touchdown.
21 Personnel - 2 Running-backs, 1 Tight-end
Another set we can expect Napier to employ is a 21 personnel grouping using two running-backs and one tight-end. Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers run this to perfection in the NFL. It's no surprise that former University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) running-back, Elijah Mitchell, is the feature back in Shanahan's offense. Mitchell ran similar sets from 2017 to 2020 in Napier's time at ULL. Below is an example of how Shanahan uses 21 personnel to draw up an easy score:
The philosophy of Napier's multiple scheme is simple to comprehend on the surface. On the field in 2022, fans will see a product that is tailored to outmatch a specific opponent each week. The bones of this operation should be recognizable across each game, but the play-design and execution will differ. And that's exactly how the offense is designed, willing and able to change depending on the matchup while maintaining core principles in its overall execution.