Tigers Hope to Tune Up Kicking Game This Week

Auburn assistant football coach Eddie Gran is expecting improvement in the kicking game.

Auburn, Ala.--One of the major goals for the Auburn football team during the next two weeks as the Tigers play non-conference games vs. Ball State and Western Kentucky is to make improvements with all phases of the kicking game.

Running backs coach Eddie Gran, who also directs the kicking game, says that aspect of Auburn's 28-0 victory over Mississippi State "was not very good."

Gran says the Tigers need to become more physical on coverage and says that will be a major emphasis in practice this week. "We worked on that in Sunday's practice and we are going to work on it every day this week," he adds.

The coach hopes to get freshman kickoff man Zach Kutch back into his preseason groove when he was consistently putting the ball in the end zone. "He is just pressing right now," Gran says. "The kid can kick. I feel bad for him, but this thing is about production."

Zach Kutch is a freshman from Milton, Fla., High School.

Gran says that Kutch's kickoffs will be charted and compared vs. kickoffs from punter Kody Bliss this week and the one who does best in practice will kick off vs. Ball State for Saturday's 1:30 p.m. start at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Also, walk-on Matt Clark will get an opportunity to compete for the job along with field goal kicker John Vaughn.

The punting of Bliss hasn't been a major problem, but Gran says the junior needs to be more consistent. Through two games, Gran says the kickoff return team has done well.

The number one punt returner, junior Tre Smith, may be watching this week's game from the sidelines as he recovers from an MCL sprain. Smith says he doesn't believe he will be out too long. "I did this same thing before and I was back to normal in about a week," he notes.

Gran says if Smith isn't ready to play that true freshman Robert Dunn will return punts vs. Ball State and Anthony Campbell will be the backup. Dunn returned one punt in the fourth quarter last Saturday for 12 yards.

John Vaughn has made his PAT kicks, but was very wide right on a 42-yard field goal attempt vs. Mississippi State. "That was a consistency issue with John on that play," Gran says. "He can't do that. He knows what he did wrong and I don't expect it to happen again."

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