If you thought Alabama head coach Nick Saban had a short fuse with his program’s history of kicking woes, it seems Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has a similar lack of patience for his kickers.
After B.T. Potter (who had already converted all four extra-point attempts) missed on a short field goal from 24 yards out, Swinney was livid. Swinney stared down Potter as he came off the field, even with Potter surely already feeling rejected about letting his teammates down. As Potter walked onto the sideline, Swinney followed him and eventually got in his face a bit more to deliver a not-so-positive message. After the initial message was delivered, Swinney turned to walk away only to quickly do an about-face and continue hunting down his kicker for some more.
Dabo channeling his inner Spurrier during his halftime interview when asked about the missed FG. “Next time, I’m going for it.”
— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) October 12, 2019
It is worth noting Swinney probably used his kicker to vent some frustration over the way the last few Clemson drives had ended. After going up 28-0 on Florida State, Clemson’s next three possessions ended with an interception thrown by Trevor Lawrence on the third play of a drive, a turnover on downs at the Florida State one-yard line, and then Potter’s missed field goal.
Earlier in the day, Georgia ran into their own kicking woes at the worst possible time, which is a good reminder to any college football fan how important a successful special teams unit really can be. Clemson may not have been in the same kind of struggle Georgia was in their double-overtime loss to South Carolina, but Swinney is on a mission to remind his entire team nothing can be taken for granted.
That was the message shared by Swinney recently after Clemson’s thrilling victory on the road at North Carolina. Swinney said in a postgame interview his team is not entitled to winning and they would have to go out and earn their victories. Even though Clemson was in no danger against a hapless Florida State team on Saturday, sometimes great coaches have to take their opportunities to issue reminders to their players to keep the foot on the gas pedal.
And if that means hurting a kicker’s self-esteem in the process, so be it.