Sophomore Looking To Hold On To Field Goal Duties

Auburn, Ala.--Tuesday morning John Vaughn was called into assistant coach Eddie Gran's office where he received the news he had been awaiting all summer. The sophomore had been named the starting field goal kicker over senior Philip Yost following a close battle throughout preseason practice.

"I just went out there and did my best," Vaughn says. "That was about all I could do. I just tried to stay consistent and get better for the season.

"And the job is not over now," Vaughn adds. "I have got to get it done on the field so I have really been trying to prepare myself the whole time to get ready for whatever happens."

Last season Vaughn was named that starter for the first game of the season as well, but midway through the Mississippi State game Yost took over and held the kicking duties until the Alabama game when the freshman re-gained the job and hit his only two attempts in a five-point win.

This season head coach Tommy Tuberville has said throughout the preseason that once the staff picked a kicker that they would stick with him unless a monumental breakdown occurs. Vaughn says that should make a big difference for him.

"That helps a lot," he notes. "Just knowing that everybody is behind you and you are not getting pulled if you miss one kick helps a lot as a kicker. I think it should be an advantage to go in there.

"It will be a lot more comfortable in there and I won't be on the edge the whole time, which is a huge thing," Vaughn says. "It's real hard to kick when you feel like it is on the line every time. But, it is about production and it has got to get done."

Yost, who has a stronger leg than Vaughn, will continue to handle the kickoff duties and will be called on to handle very long field goals. Vaughn says he and Gran haven't worked out what distance will be the cut-off point yet for the switch from Vaughn to Yost. It will likely be in the 45-yard to 50-yard range.

"Coach Gran said we will try and figure that out over the next few days," Vaughn explains. "Pretty much this year, I think, with my leg strength I can get it there from anywhere under 50 so we will just try and figure out what yardage. It just kind of depends on how I am feeling that day and the wind and everything, but we will get it figured out."

Vaughn was 6-10 on field goal kicks last season and was 27-27 on PAT kicks.

The sophomore kicker explains that he is feeling a whole lot more confident going into this season's opener than he was heading into last season's first game vs. Southern Cal. "At least a hundred times more relaxed this year," Vaughn says. "Last year was just a big deal. Obviously, you know USC and I was three months out of high school and I was getting ready to play against people like Mike Williams and stuff like that. I just never, never really had any kind of comfort coming in there. I was real, real on the edge, but I am a lot more comfortable this year."

Vaughn also notes that he is overcoming the problem of being too hard on himself, which he says bothered him last season. "I definitely have been able to work on that," he notes. "The biggest thing I can take from last year was learning how to miss and how to deal with it because I never really had to deal with it in high school.

Overall, the kicker says he is happy with his progress throughout the summer and where he stands heading into game one on Saturday vs. Louisiana-Monroe. "I am hitting the ball pretty good right now," he explains. "I have just kicked a lot in the last few weeks so I am really not going to do much this week at all--just more mental preparation than anything. I just have got to get my leg back, but it will come back by Saturday. I am not really worried about it."

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