Pinion punted seven times against Georgia, averaging 41 yards per attempt. Only one was returned, and it went for just four yards. Three were downed inside the 20 and two were at least 50 yards. All seven of his kickoffs were touchbacks.
"He hung it up there for some fair catches. He pinned them deep. His kickoffs were incredibly consistent," Swinney said. "I thought that he was ready for the moment. He really was."
As a freshman in 2012, Pinion appeared in eight games. He averaged 39.4 yards per punt, three of which landed inside the 20-yardline and another went for over 50 yards. All of his attempts were in mop-up time.
"This is a young man that's just a true sophomore, got some good experience last year. He was ready to step out on that stage and perform at a high level, a consistent level.
"That's what we need from him."
Divine intervention, perhapsWith a 31-28 lead, Clemson entered the Georgia red zone after Roderick McDowell went around the right edge for 36 yards. On first-and-goal from the Dawg's 6-yardline, Zac Brooks gained two yards up the middle.
Second-down was almost a disaster. Almost.
As the snap sailed over Tajh Boyd's head, yellow flags flew through the air as referees called off the play with their whistles blowing and arms waiving.
Fortunately, for Clemson, David Beasley moved a hair too soon. Had he not been caught, the Tigers may not have closed the possession with a touchdown. There's no telling where the ball would have ended up had the play continued.
"You need some breaks along the way," Swinney said. "I think it's kind of divine intervention a little bit.
"Tim [Bourret] and I were talking. We had Danny Ford going in the Ring of Honor. No. 81 scored the winning touchdown. Coach [Bill] Wilhelm is going into the Ring of Honor. I think he was No. 38 and ol' No. 38 came up with that big play in the end zone, on the crazy punt return play.
"You need a little help. We need some of them Clemson Tigers up there every now and then. That good karma doesn't hurt."
The head's up play by No. 38If C.J. Jones
With just under six minutes left on the clock, Georgia punted to Clemson. Return man Adam Humphries opted not to field the punt, calling for teammates to get away from the ball as it bounced towards the Tigers' 10-yardline.
Ben Boulware thought otherwise and tried to prevent one of the Georgia players from downing it near the goal line. His plan worked after the ball deflected off of his chest and entered the end zone.
"I just saw the ball hit my player and it rolled in the end zone," Jones said. "In my head, I was like, it's going to be a safety or it's going to be six. My mind just told me to pick it up and get what I could get."
Jones returned the ball to the 9-yardline.
"[Boulware] got pushed into the ball. He was trying to make an effort play. He got pushed into it. The ball hit him," Jones said. "I saw it and I just grabbed it."
Had Georgia come away with points, referees would have been permitted to overturn the play because Boulware was blocked into the ball. However, given the nature of replay review, it's no guarantee that the call would go in Clemson's favor.
Nonetheless, it was a head's up play by a senior graphic communications major that had appeared in just four games before Saturday night.
"In the situation in the game, it worked out for the best," Jones said.