Dabo Swinney revealed something unusual following Clemson’s final fall scrimmage Thursday.
“(B.T. Potter) actually did not have a good day today,” the Tigers’ coach said.
Those kind of days have been far from the norm for the Tigers’ special teamers, whom Swinney said he feels “really good” about heading into the season. Given the experience Potter and punter Will Spiers have, that’s not exactly a surprise.
Even long snapper Jack Maddox and receiver Will Swinney, who doubles as the Tigers’ holder, have been doing this a while as fifth-year seniors.
“We’ve got a lot of veterans, so that’s been a real plus for us,” Swinney said.
Potter enters his senior season as one of the top placekickers in the country. The Rock Hill native was a Lou Groza Award finalist last season when he converted 18 of his 23 field goals (three of those misses were blocked) and made all but one of his 62 extra-point attempts. He was the only player in the Football Bowl Subdivision with more than 15 field goals and more than 60 touchbacks.
Meanwhile, Spiers kept one of the ACC’s top kicking duos intact when he decided to take advantage of the NCAA’s eligibility relief amid the coronavirus pandemic and return for a sixth season. Spiers, who’s beginning his fifth season as Clemson’s primary punter, already holds the school record for starts by a punter (56) and punts downed inside the 20-yard line (81) and is coming off his best season yet.
Twelve of his 45 punts last season covered at least 50 yards. His average of 44 yards per punt was a career-best and the second-highest single-season mark in school history.
Fall camp has largely been more of the same from the Tigers’ veterans.
“Out of 16 days, this is the only bad day B.T. has had,” Swinney said. “He was just a little off today for whatever reason, but he’s had an amazing camp. I really like where we are from a personnel standpoint with the field-goal team. Punts have been great.”
As for the return game, Swinney has liked what he’s seen there, too. He said the first-team kickoff unit produced a “big return” during Thursday’s scrimmage.
Handling kickoff and punt returns looks to be some combination of Lyn-J Dixon, Kobe Pace and freshman running back Will Shipley, though receiver Justyn Ross, who was listed as the No. 1 punt returner on Clemson’s pre-camp depth chart, is likely to get in the mix there. Swinney said even freshman quarterback Will Taylor, who could also play receiver, will return some punts this season.
“I like how we’re handling things from a punt-return standpoint,” Swinney said. “So we’ve gotten a lot done. We’ve still got a lot more to do. We’ve got a lot of situational things still to work next week and kind of finish up that aspect of it, but B.T. and Will have been awesome.”