CLEMSON -- Chandler Catanzaro will likely attempt the first scoring kicks of his college career Saturday in Clemson's opener against North Texas.
Is the walk-on redshirt freshman ready for the pressure?
Catanzaro says he's handled pressure before. Talking with reporters this week, Catanzaro recounted when he helped Christ Church to a tennis state title as a freshman by winning a 10-point tiebreaker in a decisive doubles match.
Catanzaro was also a soccer and place-kicking standout at the tiny school, earning a trip to the North-South All-Star game. As a senior, he made 47 of 48 extra points and 10 of 16 field goals, including a long of 51 yards.
How Catanzaro fares in front of 70,000 with the game on the line is yet to be determined.
This summer he decisively beat his competition on the relative calm of the practice field.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Catanzaro won the job by making more than 80 percent of his kicks this summer. Catanzaro doesn't have the leg strength of Spencer Benton or incumbent Richard Jackson, who he surprisingly beat out, but Catanzaro has been extremely accurate on short to medium-range kicks.
"We've tried everything," Swinney said, "different holders, different snappers and groups. He just flat out won the job, and it really wasn't even close."
Dabo on openers
"I'll never forget that Alabama butt-whooping," Swinney said of the 2008 loss. "That was an eye-opener.
"Southern Miss my sophomore year. They had this quarterback who was in a bad car wreck that summer who wasn't supposed to play. In fact it was a prelude of what was to come many years later: Is he going to play? Is he not going to play? Well, Brett Favre played and beat us. That was (Gene) Stallings' first game. Not quite how you want to start your career at Alabama, but I'll never forget watching him play."
The Diehl plan
Not a single media member asked to interview Chad Diehl this week, eliciting this response from Swinney: "What's wrong with you people?"
The battering ram of a fullback will be featured in Clemson's two-back formations. Diehl earned increased playing time down the stretch last season, when Clemson resorted to more of a power-run philosophy. Swinney said Diehl will have a greater role this fall.
"He'll always been that guy everyone wants to keep their eyes on -- a collision is going to happen one way or another," Swinney said. "He's really caught the ball well. … We're asking him to do a lot more things."
Swinney on reports Auburn and Clemson will meet in the Chick-fil-A kickoff in 2012: "I'd be all for it." … Brandon Maye (knee) is the only notable Tiger out for Saturday's opener.