Dabo Swinney says Clemson will open up kicker competition after struggles against Duke

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham09/05/23


Following an 0-for-2 performance kicking from Robert Gunn in a season-opening loss to Duke, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on Tuesday that he’s opened up the kicking competition. A number of Clemson specialists are in the running.

Swinney admitted it was disappointing for Gunn, a true freshman, to struggle under the lights after such a strong camp. Both his kicks were blocked, but both were also low enough to get blocked.

“Just disappointing because Robert had a great camp,” Swinney said. “An amazing camp. But sometimes, you know, these guys, the lights come on and sometimes they can kind of get in a funk. You’ve gotta work your way out of it and hopefully he will, because he is incredibly gifted and incredibly talented… Unfortunately he didn’t take it to the game the other night and it was costly. Hopefully he’ll respond. If not we’ve gotta put somebody else in there.”

Swinney said that he’s given other kickers a try at practice already on Tuesday. So far, Quinn Castner is the first in line to take reps if Gunn can’t start making kicks.

“Yea, we just gave him a try tonight. So we’ve got him and Hogan Morton and then also Aidan,” Swinney said of his punter. “Aidan Swanson is actually a pretty doggone good field goal kicker, too. He’s our next kickoff guy. He’s got a really strong leg.”

If not Swanson or Castner, Morton, a sophomore, might be the choice.

However, Swinney is hopeful that Gunn will seize the initiative and the kicking job full time after a rough start.

“Hopefully Robert will hang in there and work his way out of it. Get a little bit of success there and get him rolling. He’s a young guy. The second one I think hit the elbow of the guy. It was a line drive. And that’s just mental. It’s just mental. He’s not done that all camp, all spring. We’ll keep working on it and see if we can get him through it,” Swinney said.

Swinney said the loss to Duke was ‘indescribable’

Swinney shared his thoughts in a press conference after the Tiger’s loss to the Blue Devils on Monday night. Coming into the opener inside Wallace Wade Stadium, he felt like they would match up well enough to win the game. Instead, Clemson’s performance was “indescribable” for him as they continued to struggle on offense and eventually gave Duke one too many opportunities.

“I thought we matched up good. I mean I thought we were going to be able to run the ball. We did. I thought we could win the matchup up front,” explained Swinney. “Again, it’s almost indescribable what I just saw. I mean it’s incredibly frustrating when you have so much opportunity and, I mean, just get nothing.”

“I didn’t think there was any bad matchups or anything like that. They’re a good team with good players. They hung in there. I thought we were kind of getting control of it there in the third quarter but we could just not get out,” said Swinney. “We just needed one drive, one score. And then, finally, you just can’t keep giving a good team opportunities. Sooner or later, they capitalize.”