Quietly, it seems, the reigning College Football Playoff national champion Clemson Tigers are 6-0 to start 2019. It seems inevitable that Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and a defense ranked third in the FBS allowing only 254.8 yards per game will capture a fifth-straight ACC Championship. But with several teams looking like legitimate title contenders, there's no room for error.
That is, unless you're up four touchdowns against the Florida State Seminoles on your home field. You'd think that in this scenario, a mistake could be forgiven, right? Not a chance when you are Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and your program is preparing for another postseason run.
Just over a minute to go in the first half, defensive end Xavier Thomas lined up on offense at tailback. Facing fourth-and-goal, Thomas took a pitch, failed to score, fumbled the football, and gave it back to FSU. No one seemed to care.
That's because Clemson was up 28-0 at this point in the blowout
Following a quick interception by FSU quarterback James Blackman, Clemson took over in the red zone again and looked to put this game further out of reach before halftime. Clemson's offense sputtered, which resulted in a 24-yard field goal attempt by sophomore kicker B.T. Potter.
Potter would miss the chip-shot kick, which caused Dabo Swinney to explode on Potter, bench him for the rest of the game, and say afterwards, "Yeah, he's second team."
Clemson's Dabo Swinney Berates Kicker
Potter was 5-of-9 on field goals following that miss, including a perfect 27-of-27 on extra point attempts this season.
Dabo Swinney demands perfection. He's a national champion for that reason, which means there is zero room for error in any situation.
"I don't know if I can say that right now," Swinney told ESPN's Molly McGrath before halftime when asked what he told Potter. "That's a layup. That's ridiculous. [Potter] wasn't ready."
If you've ever played football, you've had a coach yell at you. It's as much a part of the game as a touchdown being worth six points. But Swinney's sideline eruption caused some incredibly unwarranted criticism to swoop down from everything to being a "drama queen" and "a complete asshole."
Despite publicly berating and benching him, Swinney called Potter "a great kicker" who is "still kind of growing into his role." Swinney added that "it's a game of performance," and clearly Potter wasn't living up to the Tigers' standard.
Backup kicker Steven Sawicki was named the team's starter moving forward.
Clemson faces the vaunted Louisville Cardinals before hosting the always-scary Boston College Golden Eagles. Then (gasp!) the mighty Wofford Terriers come to town. Yes, the Tigers' schedule is a joke, so there's no reason anyone should be worried about Clemson's kickers right now. Swinney is doing everything he can to get his guys ready for the games that really matter, and if that means yelling at a kicker who missed a chip-shot, then good.
Champions demand perfection. If you don't get that, you should probably be a Rutgers fan.
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