The Foot In Football

Adventures in kicking with Tommy Tuberville and Damon Duval.

Auburn, Ala.--On an eventful evening for the Auburn Tigers, few players had a more eventful football game than Damon Duval.

He nailed four punts for an average of 46 yards, but got a scare when one of his punts was blocked. However, that play was negated by a facemask penalty on the Bulldogs.

On a fourth down and 16 play from Auburn territory in the third quarter, Duval had a pass/run option on a fake punt, He decided to run and came up about a yard shy of the first down yardage. Two plays later, the Bulldogs took the lead on a 37-yard touchdown pass. That unsuccessful fake might have been considered the biggest play of the game if the Auburn kicker hadn't trumped it with a game-winning field goal with 18 seconds left.

The scoreboard tells the story.

Earlier in the evening with the wind at his back, Duval had missed his first field goal attempt of the night, pushing a 56-yarder wide right. However, he bounced back with three straight makes from 30, 19 and the game-winner from 47 yards out

"I have learned a lot that if you miss a kick, you have to forget about it," Duval said after the 16-14 Tiger victory. "If you don't forget about it, it is going to be on your mind when you take the next kick so you have to completely block it out. I will go back tomorrow and watch the film and see where I made my mistakes and worry about it later. I just have to make sure I concentrate on the one kick I am going out there for."

Commenting on the punt fake, Duval said, "I remember getting up off of the ground, all of my teammates thought that I had it (the first down). I didn't even see where the refs had spotted it. I heard on the sidelines it might have been a bad spot. I was hoping I did (make it). I saw the pylon there and I knew I was about to get hit. I tried stretching out as much as I could to get there. I thought I made it, but I didn't and that is how it goes sometimes."

Duval's first option on the play was to pass the football to tight end Lorenzo Diamond. "I saw the two outside rushers from my right side, their left side, coming in. They took a hard cut in to go under our blockers and I knew they weren't going to be able to get me. That is when I saw the first down. I wish it hadn't been so far, but I thought I could make it. It was open."

Duval said that he was expecting to have a shot at a long field goal to win the game when the Tigers got the ball back trailing 14-13. "Coach (Tommy) Tuberville said it was going to come down to a field goal," Duval noted. "Coach said anywhere inside the 45 or 50 we were going to try it. I just made sure I lined it up. Our snapper, Jeremy Wells did a great job. Justin Fetsko put the hold down. I had the simplest part. I just had to go through and kick the ball. Fortunately, I hit the ball well. I struck it solid and it went through."

The junior said in pre-game he was making kicks in the 50-yard range against the wind. "In that situation, if the game comes down to it, I have complete confidence that I can hit it just as well against the wind as with the wind." Duval has made field goals in practice that easily cleared the crossbar from 65 yards out.

Tuberville gave the kicking game credit for playing a key role in the victory. "We work a lot on special teams," he said. "Our guys are starting to take pride in it. You can even see the starters on offense and defense over there patting guys on the back. I think special teams is probably one of the strong points we have rallied around. As long as you can play good, solid run defense and play good special teams, you can keep yourself in the ball game. That is what happened. We didn't play very good on offense. We just happened to score enough points to win the game, but our defense and kicking game gave us an opportunity to be in that situation."

Commenting on his field goal kicker, Tuberville said, "You can't say enough about Damon."


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