Talking special teams

SUNSET, S.C. - Clemson's new special teams coordinator brings a plethora of experience to the table this season. He talks about that and his new role in this extensive interview with CUTigers.

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CUTigersTV: Danny Pearman



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On many levels, Danny Pearman is Clemson football.

He played under Danny Ford and was part of two ACC Championship teams in 1986 and 87 as a reserve tight end. He also coached at Alabama as a graduate assistant during one of the Crimson Tide's National Championship runs (1992) and was an instrumental assistant at Virginia Tech for many of Frank Beamer's top teams, including the 1999 team that played Florida State for the National Championship.

A hard-nosed competitor with a no-nonsense attitude on the field, Pearman will once again serve as Clemson's tight ends coach this season and also step in as the Tigers' special teams coordinator as well.

Recently CUTigers sat down with Pearman to talk about potential changes for Clemson's special teams this season. Here is an edited transcript of that conversation:

How excited are you to see some of these freshman come in and contribute?
Pearman: I'm excited to see what they can do. I think that's one of the things - if they can help us on offense or defense just yet I don't know. It will be based on how much they can retain and learn. Some of these kids I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do.

From a special teams perspective, some Clemson fans may not know that you come from that Virginia Tech mentality after all of those years in Blacksburg - that has to help you in a role like this.
Pearman: I've been blessed. I was at Alabama with Coach Stallings. People don't realize coach Stallings was the special teams coach for Tom Landry when he was with the Dallas Cowboys. I remember we had always done special teams by committee when we first got there and finally one day he called me in his office and said 'hey I'm going to increase your role in what we are doing. I want you to coach special teams too.' I thought, my goodness, here I'm (this) young and I'm coaching this now. Then he said, 'Understand this: we don't have a problem so long as it's my idea. He said if you are out there we have a problem.'

So I learned it a young age. The emphasis there was really big. Then coaching at Virginia Tech for eight years it was always a big part of what Coach Beamer did there and at Duke and Maryland when I was on their staffs. I was a special teams coordinator at both of those places when I was also a position coach. It's not new. It's a lot of organizational skills.

"For example a snapper and a holder. Some of those roles are very thankless until they are screwed up and we've lived through that."

And sometimes, being able to mix in the guy who may not be the limelight guy or the starter - can really increase your team's (morale) ... it really finds roles for everybody. You've got to be able to do that without having drop off. That's critical. Sometimes you can find a job where it's really important to a guy to do one of those jobs and that may be his role for the team. And you have to express to him that's a huge and vital role.

For example a snapper and a holder. Some of those roles are very thankless until they are screwed up and we've lived through that.

Scheme-wise, do you make a lot of changes on what Coach Powell did here as special teams coordinator?
Pearman: There are going to be some things we will change schematically but it's not going to be a bunch of wholesale changes from what I've seen at this point.

Looking at placekicker specifically, I know you have to be excited about Ammon Lakip coming in and potentially pushing Chandler Catanzaro, right?
Pearman: I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do. He's got a strong leg. He's got a smooth swing - I do know that. I know the ball really jumps off his foot. Whether he can kick it through the uprights we'll see. Catanzaro has worked extremely hard. He's going to be a hard guy to beat out. Spencer Benton has had a good summer. I look forward to those guys competing hard.


"Catanzaro has worked extremely hard. He's going to be a hard guy to beat out." (Roy Philpott)
At long snapper we have two or three guys competing really hard and then Dawson Zimmerman has taken over as our holder. Anytime guys can do more than one job because they are over there a lot in practice, and because they spend a lot of time together, their camaraderie can create some good synergy for our football team.

For Catanzaro, is it just going out on the field on game day and being successful? Everyone seems to point to the fact he's automatic during practice.
Pearman: It's kind of like my golf swing. I can go over here to this range and you would think I'm Tiger Woods, but then you go over here and put that ball down in front of 80,000 people, hitting that 20 yard field goal is like hitting a three-foot putt.

And one thing about those guys that they don't get credit for is their job it's an all-in kind of deal. Every time they jog out there the chips slide out there. It's feast or famine. And that's a good thing about it. You have to be like a duck and let the water run off your back if you are not performing. It's all about how you hit the ball.

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