I just felt comfortable out there today," the kicker said. "I got in a groove."
His competition for the field goal job, senior Philip Yost, was not in a groove. Yost finished the day hitting just three of his seven attempts.
"John Vaughn had a terrific day kicking," said head coach Tommy Tuberville. "He had a 100 percent day and that's what we're looking for--consistency."
Early in the scrimmage, Vaughn connected on field goals of 32, 41, 35 and 39 yards. Yost missed from the same distances on the first three attempts before finally connecting on the 39-yarder. Auburn wrapped up the scrimmage with both kickers attempting field goals of 42, 42 and 46 yards. Vaughn was good on all three of his kicks. Yost hit two of three with a miss from 42.
"The snaps and holds were good today, which made my job a little easier," Vaughn said. "I was just trying to go out there and do my job."
Coming into Saturday's scrimmage, both kickers had put forth solid performances in most of the preseason practices. Despite Vaughn's strong showing, the starting kicker won't be named until closer to the start of the season.
"Up until this point Philip had been ahead," Tuberville said. "But again, that's why you come out and kick and that's the reason we kicked as many as we did today, just to put the pressure on both of them. We'll do this again."
With two more scrimmages expected before the first game on Sept. 4th, Yost will still have a chance to show the coaches what he can do. "The ball was coming off my foot pretty solid, but I missed a foot to the right, then a foot to the left," he said. "You just have to forget about it and come back and compete the next day."
Even if Vaughn wins the starting job, Yost will likely handle kickoff duties and is expected to be the choice to attempt very long field goals. Yost connected on a 57-yard field goal last year against Western Kentucky, which tied Neil O'Donoghue's school record set against Tennessee in 1976.
Vaughn and Yost split field goal duties in 2003. Vaughn finished the season 6-10 and Yost was 5-9. Vaughn was 39 of 44 during his high school playing days at Brentwood, Tenn., Academy, but struggled as a freshman in 2003 at Auburn. "I feel a lot more mature now than I did last year," Vaughn said. "I've gotten stronger and that's helped me a lot. Last year I had to strain a lot just to get the ball up and get it there. I've gained about 30 pounds so my leg is a lot stronger."
John Vaughn is shown at Saturday's scrimmage.
After his misses and Vaughn's flawless day, Yost said he wasn't discouraged. "I got a lot of support from my teammates--a lot of guys who know I have been kicking well," Yost said. "I can't really point the misses to one thing because I was hitting it well off my foot.
"A couple of them were right over the post, and you can't do that because you are leaving it up to the referees," Yost added. "As a kicker you can't do that, you've got to put it right down the middle."
Vaughn rarely missed a field goal in high school and he went back to his days at Brentwood to look for ways to improve his kicking this season. "I looked at a lot high school film," he said. "I changed a lot of stuff when I got here, and I have just tried to get back to my old form. I have been working on opening my foot up more and keeping it locked out. I had a hard time with the helicopter spiral last year. I was hooking the ball a lot.
"I have worked on keeping my foot open a little bit more so it would go straighter. I lost a lot of consistency when I got here trying to get the ball up higher and I am just now finally getting used to kicking off the ground. It is more natural now."
Vaughn, Yost and the rest of the Tigers will be back on the intramural practice fields at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. "We just have a better idea of where we're at and who we need to put a little more pressure on in practice," Tuberville said of his kickers.