Vaughn Eager To Kick Off Season

Junior kicker John Vaughn talks about the preparations for the season and the difference in practice and games for a kicker.

Auburn, Ala.–-It may seem that John Vaughn has one of the easiest jobs on the football team.

From a distance it seems like all he does is walk on the field and kick the ball. While in the simplest terms that may be true, there is a lot that goes into Vaughn's kicks before he actually swings his leg and makes contact with the leather.

The first is dealing with the wind. While much of the practice time kicking is done on the practice fields, getting into Jordan-Hare Stadium makes things much different. Because of the structure the wind acts differently, something Vaughn says is tough to get used to at first.

"It's not even the same," Vaughn says. "The wind tends to swirl a lot in our stadium. It can be in your face both directions and it can be with you both directions. You can get out there and line up and it can change. The only thing is that the other team has to deal with it too. I've gotten a pretty good hold on it since I've been here and I don't expect anything different this season."

This preseason has been different for Auburn than in past years because of the length of time the Tigers spent before playing a game. By the time the game kicks off it will be over a full month between the first practice day and opening kickoff. While it has been a grind for the team Vaughn says that it's also a help in other areas, particularly for the kickers.

Vaughn practices a drop-kick during a recent practice.

"It has been a long preseason," Vaughn says. "I think it almost simulated the season because it seems to drag on sometimes, winning or losing. It was a good warmup for everybody to get into the grind and have to be somewhere on time all the time and practicing every day. I think everyone is now ready to play.

"This year has been great for the kickers though," Vaughn adds. "We didn't really get a chance to kick much at the stadium this summer because of the construction. I was over there almost every day during two-a-days. If you haven't kicked over there in a while you get a little sloppy on judging the wind. We got a lot of good work over there and we should be ready to go."

Vaughn, along with former high school teammate Kody Bliss, gives Auburn a potentially potent kicking tandem. Both have come into the 2005 season stronger physically and it has shown with very good results in scrimmage and game-type situations in practice. Vaughn says that having a friend and trusted companion in Bliss around makes things much simpler than they would be normally.

"It makes things a lot easier," Vaughn says. "Actually our junior year of high school we had to replace a lot of our offense and some key people on defense. It's really the same thing all over again and we've actually talked about it a couple of times. I think we'll reload well and be ready to go."

Having Bliss on the field is also something that Vaughn uses to his advantage when he's not kicking. Because of the wind inside Jordan-Hare Stadium the junior says he talks to Bliss as one of the several things he uses to judge the winds and make sure he's as informed as possible before making a kick.

"Every couple of minutes I will check the flag," Vaughn says. "Whenever Kody goes out to punt I'll ask him how it was out there because it feels different in the middle of the field than it does on the sidelines. I'll take a couple of pinches of grass out there with me and I'll usually drop one on the way out there and then another when I'm lining up just to make sure it doesn't change in the 30 seconds I'm out there."

There is a fine line for success in the eyes of a kicker. While every one would love to have lots of chances to line up and score three points for his team, that would likely mean a struggling team because of an inability to score touchdowns. For Vaughn he says he's ready to do whatever the team needs to be successful this season.

"I'm definitely looking forward to this season," he says. "The whole kicking unit, the kickers, snappers and holders, we've worked really hard all summer. Everybody is ready to get out there and do our part. If we're needed more than we were last year that's great, but if we're needed less than that's great also. We're just trying to pull our weight."

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