Clemson has 'long way to go' at this position

Clemson has 'long way to go' at this position

Football

Clemson has 'long way to go' at this position

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There was one position on Clemson’s football team that Dabo Swinney felt unsure of heading into the summer. The first day of preseason camp only exacerbated that feeling for the Tigers’ head coach.

Aidan Swanson, B.T. Potter and the rest of Clemson’s punters had a day to forget Friday during punting drills. Instead of long, arcing kicks, their punts largely fluttered, most of them struggling to carry beyond 30 yards. Returners routinely had to run up in a full sprint to keep the balls from hitting the ground if they could field them at all.

“That might’ve been the worst punting drill I’ve ever seen in my life the first day. It was awful,” Swinney said earlier this week. “We’re going for it on fourth down.”

Swanson in particular caught Swinney’s eye as the Tigers continue to search for Will Spiers’ replacement. Swinney said the fourth-year junior, widely viewed to be the favorite, had a “really bad first day” but bounced back with a much more consistent performance during Clemson’s second practice Saturday, which wasn’t open to the media for viewing. Swanson has punted eight times for an average of 38.1 yards so far in his career, but his average punt in the spring game traveled 45.5 yards.

“Maybe it was because y’all were here,” Swinney said, referencing members of the media. “He was unbelievable on Saturday. He’s just got to find a way to be consistent. He can do it.” 

If he can’t, the job could go to Potter, who joined the competition this spring. The Tigers’ veteran placekicker averaged 42.3 yards per punt in the spring game and is still a candidate to pull double duty this fall.

But Swinney isn’t near ready to call a winner in the race. Clemson has a little less than four weeks before it has to play a game against Georgia Tech on Labor Day night, and it may need nearly all of that time before a decision is made.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Swinney said. “I feel good about our protection. I feel good about our personnel. We’ll be ready, but we’re not ready right now.”

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