CLEMSON — The weather wasn’t perfect at every Clemson football game in 2018. Aside from that, there wasn’t much for fans or statistical analysts to whine about during a 15-0 season capped by a 44-16 victory over No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff national championship game.
But punting was perhaps the most apparent area in which opponents fared better than the Tigers.
Clemson: 39.9 average yards per punt, 36.8 net yards.
Opponents: 44.0 and 39.6
Head coach Dabo Swinney early in spring practice sees improvement on the way, in Will Spiers’ stronger leg and strong work ethic.
“Really pleased with Will,” Swinney said. “He finished the season strong and he just looks like a different guy. He just looks incredibly confident. He’s got all the talent in the world. The thing with Will is he’s been inconsistent, but I thought the later part of the season he really settled in.”
Spiers, a rising junior who came to Clemson as a walk-on from Calhoun Academy in Cameron, was responsible for 64 of Clemson’s 66 punts last season (Carson King punted once for 48 yards and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow once for 42).
Spiers is the son of former Clemson punter and shortstop Bill Spiers, who played 13 years of Major League Baseball and now serves as a senior assistant coach for special teams on Swinney’s staff.
Carson Spiers, Will’s first cousin, is a pitcher on the Clemson baseball team.
“The biggest thing,” Swinney said of Will Spiers, “is him putting the whole deal together.”
Competition could come from left-footed punter Aidan Swanson, a recruited freshman from Bradenton, Fla., who is already on campus.
“We recruited him for a reason; he has all the ability in the world,” Swinney said. “He’s got pop. But consistency. And timing.”
Potter up and down
Clemson was not stellar in its kicking last season, either, but competition might lead to better things for 2019.
B.T. Potter steps into the No. 1 kicker role with veteran Greg Huegel gone. As a freshman last season, Potter handled most of the kickoffs but attempted just one field goal, good from 24 yards.
Huegel went 11 of 16 in 2018 with three of his misses coming over six tries from 40-49 yards.
“The biggest thing with Potter is just becoming consistent with the short kicks,” Swinney said.
Potter made a field from 55 yards Saturday — “It would have been good from 65,” Swinney said — but missed from 30.
Swinney likes senior Patrick Phibbs as the primary Clemson long-snapper but wants one more to emerge from a group including sophomore Jack Maddox, junior Tyler Brown and redshirt freshman Tyler Lucas.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff