But in just a few short months, things are definitely looking better.
Immediately upon his arrival, Powell was assigned to making the kickoff coverage team better. But to be honest, it couldn't get any worse as it was near or at the bottom of the nation statistically.
With a few tweaks here and there as far as schemes philosophy are concerned, Clemson now looks to have a good kickoff coverage team.
"I think the guys have a better understanding of what we're supposed to do," Powell said in an interview with CUTigers.com. "It will be hard to tell how good it is until we get some live bullets. But I'm encouraged and I still think we have a chance to be good on special teams."
The first thing Powell did was time every player in the 40-yard dash. From there, he picked the players he thought best fit his schemes and designs. Then he worked with the kickers about where to place the ball and how high to kick it.
And by the end of spring, it had all fit together perfectly like a puzzle.
"As far as kickoff coverage, there were a lot of time areas and elements that we looked at as far as hang time and ball placement," Powell said. "We timed the guys running a 40-yard dash with a running start. And we've got about 17 guys that ran 3.8 (second) 40s or less with a running start. Now, you're talking about getting good hang times then we've got a chance to get the guy knocked down inside the 25-yard-line."
Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden also put Powell in charge of punt returns, which was an area that produced very little success. For every one long return, there were 15 that resulted in nearly nothing.
"Let's don't get into a history lesson on what went wrong," Powell said. "Let's just talk about the great improvement. I saw some things that we did (last year) where the philosophy is going to change in what we were doing. I just see a lot of great improvement with the people that we have with just some changes in philosophy."
Powell's first order of business is making sure the right people are returning the kicks and that they're put in the best possible situations where they can have successful returns more than once every four games.
"We've got some guys out there that could be really, really good punt returners," he said. "Obviously we've got Jacoby Ford as a return man, then you work in Marcus Gilchrist and that gives you two good return men. Then we've got guys like C.J. Spiller that you can always use as a decoy or actually use him."
Powell said he hasn't quite put all the finishing touches on all the changes he's going to install on the punt return team.
"I haven't put it on paper yet, but I will," he said. "I've been thinking of a lot of different ways to get the ball in the hands of playmakers and get the best guys on the field that can do the things that we're going to require them to do.
"Hopefully this time next year, we won't think that we lost the ACC Championship by three points when we didn't play as well on special teams. Hopefully we'll win the ACC Championship and we'll win it in addition to playing really good and defense, we played really good on special teams."
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