When Dabo Swinney laid into kicker B.T. Potter following a missed 24-yard field goal attempt in last Saturday’s win over Florida State, Twitter and other social media outlets ridiculed the Clemson coach for his tactic.
It’s the same tactic Swinney has used before when a player messes up either in practice or during a game. He doesn’t treat every player the same, it all depends on how each respond to different types of discipline.
“That is a part of coaching,” he said Tuesday, “knowing when to love them and knowing when to chew them. You know? That is just a part of coaching. They all need it, and they all need both. And they will get both here.”
No player has totally avoided Swinney after making a mistake. Not even his own son.
When Will Swinney muffed a punt against Charlotte back in Week 4, his dad was all over him just like he was Potter.
When former All-American Christian Wilkins was penalized for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following a touchdown against rival South Carolina for striking the Heisman pose, Dabo Swinney was in his face on the sideline, letting his graduate defensive tackle know that was unacceptable behavior.
“They all get it, every single one of them,” Swinney said. “Ask Deshaun Watson if Coach Swinney ever chewed his butt. Ask Travis Etienne if Coach Swinney has ever chewed his butt. Yeah, they all get it. A lot of it depends on who they are and sometimes you have guys come through here and you look for a chance to yell at them and you don’t ever get a chance to yell at them.
“It took me a while to yell at Trevor (Lawrence). I was so happy when I finally got to yell at Trevor. It was awesome. I was so excited because he does not give me many opportunities.”
Swinney said he treats his players just like he does his three boys. He wants to teach them and coach them up any time he gets the opportunity.
“We spend a lot of time together,” he said. “Sometimes you have to put your arm around them and sometimes you need to kick them right in the butt. If you raise kids, you understand that. At least that was how I was raised. That does not mean I am right, it just what I believe in.
“I did not have timeout in my house. Not that there is anything wrong with a timeout. But the Swinney boys did not have a timeout. To each his own. I just think in a (football) world like we are in, this is a bunch of men and it is competitive. Iron sharpens iron, right? If you ever watch iron sharpen iron, there are some sparks that fly and sometimes that happens, player to player, coach to players, sometimes player to coach, that’s just kind of part of the world we live in.”
Swinney said he has been proud of the way Potter has handled coaching. On Sunday, Swinney officially announced Steven Sawicki as the starting kicker for field goals and extra points, following Potter’s fourth miss of the season in nine tries.
“He did a good job,” Swinney said. “Like I said, he’ll be our long field goal guy and he’s our kickoff guy. He’s been doing an awesome job, but we got to give somebody else a chance on these short field goals because we’ve got to have that. He’s 55 percent, and he’s way better than that. So, he’s got to get the type of focus that he needs.”
Through six games this season, Potter is 5-for-9 on field-goal attempts, 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 yards.
“He came back and got out there last night and did a good job, but we’ve got a long way to go,” Swinney said. “I haven’t lost any confidence in him. He’s going to kick in the NFL. He’s probably the most talented kicker I’ve ever had — just pure talent and just pure leg strength and all that stuff. But he’s just got to grow up a little bit, got to grow up and get the type of mental toughness that it takes to be special at that position, and the type of focus. So, he will. He’s a young guy. He’s got a long career in front of him. If he wants to be the guy, he’s going to have to earn it.”
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