Grading Clemson’s special teams at the bye week

Dabo Swinney and the Tigers remain undefeated in the 2022 college football season, most recently taking down former No.14 Syracuse 27-21 in Death Valley behind a comeback win led by running back Will Shipley. 

Clemson heads into their bye week unblemished with an 8-0 (6-0 ACC) record and some solid momentum heading into their final games of the regular season. As we wait for more Clemson football past the bye week, now felt like a time to break down and asses how the Tigers have been performing this season. 

Starting with special teams, here is a look at our grades for Clemson’s special team performance so far this season. 

Kicking game

Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY NETWORK

To the surprise of no one, B.T. Potter has been again excellent for the Tigers this season. Potter has hit 88.2% of his field goals this season, missing just two on the year, remaining one of the most consistent kickers in college football. Not only consistent but clutch, Potter, nailed a 52-yard field goal that helped send Clemson to overtime against Wake Forest. Potter’s ability to nail deep kicks has been an advantage many teams don’t have, as college kickers are more often than not inconsistent with smaller legs. Potter ranks fourth in the country in points right now. Punting hasn’t faired as well though starting punter Aidan Swanson hasn’t been bad. Rather, Swanson has been more underwhelming, taking over for the consistent Will Spiers. Of the 78 applicable names on the NCAA’s punting statistics, Swanson ranks 63rd in the country, averaging 41.34 yards per punt. It hasn’t killed the Tigers this season though more consistency at the position would benefit the team.

Grade: B+

Kick Return

Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY NETWORK

Though they’ve only returned nine kickoffs the entire season, the Tigers have done an excellent job in kick return when Will Shipley is back their returning kicks for the team. Clemson currently ranks ninth in the country in average yards per return at 25.78. The Tigers haven’t brought one back for six yet but Shipley has certainly tested some teams averaging 31.7 yards a return with a 69-yard long this season.

Grade: B+

Punt Return

Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY NETWORK

The weakest point of Clemson’s special teams this season has definitely been punt return. Whether it’s been Will Taylor or Antonio Williams, the Tigers haven’t been productive in punt returning. With Will Taylor muffing a couple of punts this season, we’ve seen more work for Antonio Williams in the return game. The Tigers ranked 96th in the country in average yards per return, averaging 5.71 per clip. The only reason I can’t be too critical of this unit as a whole is that the Tigers have found ways to block a couple of their opponents’ punts which naturally gives this a lift.

Grade: C

Overall

Syndication: Greenville

Clemson has been solid on special teams this season though they could use more production in punt return to make the Tigers special teams a more complete group, as well as in punting with Aidan Swanson. B.T. Potter’s season is the highlight of the Tigers’ special teams this year, as he has proven to be an NFL-caliber kicker. Good, but not great from Clemson’s special teams so far this season.

Grade: B

MVP so far

Syndication: The Greenville News

Kicker: B.T. Potter

Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire