3 Questions about the Clemson Football special teams this spring

It is a mixed back for Clemson's special teams as they approach 2024. Here are the three things I am asking about as we approach the spring game.

Clemson punter Aidan Swanson (39) near Clemson kicker Nolan Hauser (81)
Clemson punter Aidan Swanson (39) near Clemson kicker Nolan Hauser (81) / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK
3 of 3

Can Aidan Swanson continue his elevated play?

At this time last year, one of my questions about special teams was if Jackson Smith could outduel Aidan Swanson for the starting punter job. Swanson was shaky as a starter in 2022, and we had heard that Smith could really boom the ball.

This year, Swanson is the clear starter as he moves into his COVID season. His play elevated as the season progressed. Punter is one of those positions like the offensive line: if you aren’t hearing someone’s name a lot, it means they are doing a pretty good job.

Swanson’s 2023 yardage wasn’t very different than in 2022. In 2022, he had 62 punts for 2,580 yards (41.61 average). In 2023, he had 61 punts for 2564 yards (42.03 average). The biggest improvement wasn’t in distance, it was placement.

In 2022, Swanson placed 16 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line, which accounted for 25.8% of his punt attempts. In 2023, he put 28 inside the 20-yard line, accounting for 45.9% of his attempts.

When you have a punter who can pin the opposing offense deep, it gives the defense a much better chance of forcing turnovers and 4th downs. Smith will just have to wait another season.