B.T. Potter served as Clemson’s starting placekicker for the first six games this season. However, Dabo Swinney has decided to make a change after Saturday’s 45-14 win over Florida State at Death Valley during which Potter missed wide right on a 24-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter with the Tigers leading 28-0.
The Clemson head coach said during his teleconference Sunday evening that senior Steven Sawicki has the starting job going into third-ranked Clemson’s game at Louisville this Saturday.
Sawicki made his first career field goal, a 26-yarder, in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s victory.
“Right now, he’s got the job going into Louisville,” Swinney said. “He earned that on the field. Again, at some point you’ve got to give somebody else a chance.”
Saturday marked the second straight game that Potter missed a makeable field goal, or what Swinney calls a “layup.” Against North Carolina on Sept. 28 in Chapel Hill, the sophomore could not hit from 40 yards out on Clemson’s first drive of the game.
Overall, Potter is 5-for-9 on field-goal attempts this season, including 2-for-3 on tries of 20-29 yards, 1-for-2 from 30-39 yards, 1-for-3 from 40-49 yards and 1-for-1 from 50-plus with a long of 51 in the season-opener against Georgia Tech. He has also made all 27 of his PAT attempts on the year.
Potter will retain his gig as Clemson’s kickoff specialist, according to Swinney, and of course there is a chance for him to reclaim the starting placekicker role.
“Potter’s done an amazing job as a kickoff guy, and he is as talented a kicker as I’ve ever been around – super, super talented, and he’s going to be a great player,” Swinney said. “He’ll play in the NFL. He’ll be a great pro. I don’t have any doubt about it. But he’s just got to grow up and mature a little bit and really mentally just be focused and be ready.
“Really two easy misses in the last two games – easy. And yeah, it’s no big deal in a 28-0 game. But we make that easy one up there at North Carolina, you’re not in the situation you’re in at the end of the game. So, they add up and they matter, and so his sense of urgency has got to improve, and just his confidence. Sometimes you lose your confidence a little bit. He had an awesome camp and got off to a good start and all that, but he just kind of hit a little bit of a funk, and sometimes you just need to go sit and compete.”
Swinney noted that the Tigers will still turn to Potter for longer field-goal attempts, but Sawicki will be the go-to guy right now on shorter tries.
“Again, you’ve got to give somebody else an opportunity if you’re not getting it done,” Swinney said. “Those are points. But Sawicki went out and took advantage of his opportunity, and he’s been very accurate. Potter would still definitely be the long field-goal guy for sure, but on these short field goals, which is more where B.T.’s been struggling, Sawicki’s the guy right now.
“Now again, practice matters, so we’ll see what happens this week in practice. But it’s up to B.T. to go win it back, and maybe that’s what he needs. Maybe he needs that challenge, so we’ll see him respond and hopefully Steven will step up and take advantage of his opportunity.”
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