CLEMSON -- One of Dabo Swinney's favorite attributes in a player is resiliency. Perhaps no Tiger embodies that trait better than kicker Richard Jackson.
After Jackson was ineligible for the Gator Bowl last season, Swinney let him know he was running out of chances and the Tigers' new coach would be the first "to buy him a bus ticket out of town."
It was not the first disappointment for the Greer native, who arrived in 2006 as something of a prep legend, a Parade All-American, having kicked a state-record 64-yard field goal at Riverside.
After redshirting in 2006, Jackson was beaten out in 2007 by Clemson's second leading scorer -- on its Final Four soccer team, Mark Buchholz.
The following academic issues put Jackson in a hole "as deep as you could imagine," he said, "deep enough where I couldn't see the top."
After getting his grades in order, Jackson took advantage of health woes and consistency issues of Spencer Benton, the favorite heading into the summer.
"There was no room for error," Jackson said. "I'm trying to win back some trust."
Jackson, a junior, gained some trust with Swinney on Thursday, when he connected on a 53-yard field goal, which looked like it would have been good from 65 yards.
Swinney didn't ask Jackson if he could make it; Jackson said he asked, "Are you going to?"
He said he wanted to be on the field for a game-winning kick Thursday, a confidence he doubted existed last season.
It wasn't a perfect night, as Jackson did not identify a Georgia Tech player back as a returner on the Tigers' first-quarter pooch punt, leading to a touchdown.
And there was more adversity for Jackson, who was drilled by blockers on the return.
"It's like a free shot at the quarterback," said Jackson, who said he is fine for Saturday's game against Boston College. "Who doesn't want that opportunity?"
It was yet another opportunity for a knocked-down Jackson to get back up.
Bowers says not to worry
During ESPN's Thursday telecast, the broadcast crew said Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele compared the talent of Da'Quan Bowers to that of NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White.
Production is another question.
After producing just one sack last season he has yet to record one this season. However, Bowers cautions against sounding any alarm just yet.
While he admittedly didn't play well against Middle Tennessee, against Georgia Tech he had the yeoman's task of stopping the dive, which precludes any sort of gaudy behind-the-line-of-scrimmage tackles.
"My job was critical," Bowers said. "I kept (blockers) off linebackers. I eliminated a lot of the dive plays ... big runs. (Thursday) wasn't a stat game. It was the type of game I think NFL scouts look at: 'Does this guy try to makes plays or focus on his job?' "
The O-line is OK
Offensive line coach Brad Scott said center Mason Cloy and guards Thomas Austin and Antoine McClain had one of their best collective efforts Thursday, which is important early in the season.
He also said he didn't substitute much because of factors like crowd noise and snap count issues at Georgia Tech. The glaring problem was at right tackle, where Landon Walker will start Saturday in place of Corey Lambert. Redshirt sophomore David Smith (6-5, 290) will also see increased reps at right tackle.
If Plan A (Walker) fails at right tackle, tackles coach Danny Pearman was asked what is Plan B? Said Pearman: "We'll worry about the second later."
Pearman was also asked about Lambert playing on an island much of the entire first half against Derrick Morgan. Pearman said he had considerable help in the form of chip blocks.
However, he did not receive help on either of Morgan's sacks he allowed or a C.J. Spiller loss on fourth-and-one.
Pearman and Scott should be considerably less worried this year about facing Boston College as the Eagles lost two defensive tackles early in the NFL draft in B.J. Raji (first round - Green Bay) and Ron Brace (second round - New England).