Auburn, Ala.-- The Auburn Tigers offensive potential was realized Saturday night as Coach Gus Malzahn’s team broke through with 706 total yards in a 51-14 football victory over the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
Many Tigers decided to show out and have career nights including junior kicker Daniel Carlson. The 2015 Lou Groza Award finalist set a new Auburn record in the contest for the amount of total points scored in a game by a place kicker (21), breaking the record of 18 held by both himself (2014 vs. Alabama) and Al Del Greco (1982 vs. Kentucky).
Carlson also became the sixth kicker in SEC history to convert on all of his 100-plus extra point attempts.
Nevertheless, the focus after the game wasn’t on his statistical achievements, but instead on the play he and holder Tyler Stovall pulled off in the second quarter.
With the score sitting at 21-7 and the Tigers having stalled at the Red Wolves’ 20-yard line after a lengthy drive that started at the Auburn 28, Malzahn called on Carlson and the field goal unit to attempt what looked to be 37-yarder and take the score to 24-7. However, with a similar played used by AU head coach Tommy Tuberville and kicker Damon Duval from 2000 Stovall took the snap and did a no-look it over his head to Carlson, who already had his sights set on the end zone for six.
“We felt like (the play call) was the right opportunity if we got the right look and that it would be there,” said Malzahn after the game. “Coach (Scott) Fountain and Coach (Herb) Hand are in charge of field goals and they came to me in the middle of the week and felt like we had a chance. We got the look, and our holder made an outstanding throw. That’s not an easy deal. Daniel’s an athlete and he can run. It was pretty well executed.”
According to Carlson he “couldn’t believe” that the play call was made, but he was ready to perform in the moment just like he is with his kicking.
“I’ve never carried the ball in my life,” he admitted. “Besides punting that’s the only time I’ve ever touched it with my hands. It was exhausting. I haven’t run that much in a while, but it was a lot of fun. Just celebrating with my teammates, it’s fun for them when they do their jobs. It’s not the most glorifying job in the world (field goal) blocking, and it was a lot of fun celebrating with them.”
Carlson was in a jovial mood about the play overall and full of praise for Stovall, who he said executed the over-the-shoulder throw perfectly “just as he normally does in practice.”
“We’ve been working on that since fall camp,” Carlson noted. “We’ve worked on that hundreds and hundreds of times probably.”
One Arkansas State defender on the outside was quick to read the play, but the trajectory of the throw took him out of the play and allowed Carlson to run uncontested to the end zone.
“I kind of saw (the defender) out of the corner of my eye,” said Carlson. “That’s about it (that I remember). I think I blacked out a bit. After I had the ball I just remember seeing the end zone and trying to get there as fast as I could.
Carlson was later asked if he knew that Auburn ran the play 16 years ago vs. LSU under coach Tuberville. Not only did he and his teammates know about it, they also “watched plenty of film on it.”
Carlson and the Tigers will attempt to continue their impressive scoring performance when they open SEC play at home vs. the Texas A&M Aggies next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. with TV coverage provided by ESPN.