This is a time to take a deep breath and think about the season so far. Certainly, the Tigers have done what it takes to stay on course for a return to the playoffs, finishing this part of the schedule 8-0 with the major divisional foes now vanquished. Despite this success, including a nation-leading three wins over currently-ranked opponents, the skeptics remain and the Tigers are just 5th in the country in both polls. Some folks remain in perpetual fear of a future loss to some power like Ohio State or UGA, while others put more stock in what the Tigers have accomplished against this schedule. This is what some of your friendly neighborhood STS staffers feel about things to this point.
I’ve been very pleased overall with the special teams this season. B.T. Potter has been magnificent, especially on the road at Wake when he calmly nailed a 52-yarder that tied the game the Tigers would win in overtime. He’s such a key factor in close games and a “weapon” as Dabo Swinney has said.
The return game has been solid with Antonio Williams and Will Shipley providing some impactful returns. The only ding I give the unit is from some spotty punting earlier in the season (though Swanson has been great the last two games) and some of Will Taylor’s struggles fielding punts. Four blocked kicks so far have been great as well.
Alex Craft: A-
Potter and kickoff coverage are A+. Punting was a D until Swanson strung a couple of good games together and made a big impact against Syracuse. Even the return game has been better than just about any point in the past decade with Shipley and Williams each providing sparks there in recent games.
For so long Clemson’s just needed special teams to tread water because Clemson was dominant on offense and defense; make your kicks, don’t screw up in punt protection or coverage, and fair catch everything so the offense just gets the ball. Anything else was a bonus. This year though it’s all been decent, plus a few blocked kicks. That’s worth an A-.