Auburn, Ala.--It has been a lean year when it comes to postseason awards for the Auburn football Tigers, a trend that continued on Thursday night when sophomore Daniel Carlson, a finalist for the Lou Groza Award as college football's top kicker, saw it presented to Kaimi Fairbairn of UCLA.
However, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn made it known that he appreciates his All-SEC sophomore kicker. "As far as we are concerned, what he did for us this year was unbelievable," Malzahn said.
"When you think about the pressure kicks that he made--not just the fact that he made most of the kicks, the pressure kicks he made and then the kickoffs that went into the end zone," the coach added. "He's one of the best and we're rooting for him. If he wins it he's very well deserving. He's going against two guys that were phenomenal in their own rights. The season he's had for us has been phenomenal."
The other finalist, Jake Elliott, plays for Auburn’s bowl opponent, the Memphis Tigers. Auburn and Memphis will play Dec. 30th in the Birmingham Bowl.
Carlson is not the first Auburn player to be a finalist for the award. Damon Duval was a finalist in 2001 and John Vaughn was one in 2006.
After redshirting in 2013 Carlson handled the kickoff, field goals, extra points and punting in 2014. This season he has not punted, but has been a standout as a kicker. He said being able to focus on his kicking has made a positive difference on field goals and kickoffs.
Daniel Carlson made a 56-yard field goal in the season opener vs. Louisville.
Going into the 2015 season finale on Dec. 30th vs. Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl, Carlson has hit 22-26 field goals and has not missed an extra point.
He set a school record this season with a streak of 16 consecutive field goals without a miss and his 22 field goals puts him in a tie with Scott Etheridge, who set the school record for field goals in a season in 1992.
Carlson has been strong on kickoffs, too, as the Tigers have only allowed 17 returns through 12 games.