Football Freshman Trying to Earn His Playing Time

An Auburn football player discusses his mixed results early in his college career.

Auburn, Ala.--Zach Kutch, the only true freshman who played on opening night for the Tigers, is battling to keep playing football for the Auburn football team this season.

The kicker from Milton, Fla., High is in a two-player competition with walk-on Matt Clark for the kickoff assignment. After unexpectedly struggling vs. Georgia Tech and not doing a lot better in game two vs. Mississippi State, he improved significantly in game three vs. Ball State.

As Kutch and the Tigers prepare for Saturday's 1:30 p.m. homecoming game vs. Western Kentucky, the kicker is trying to make sure he is giving himself the best chance possible to win the starting job.

"I feel a lot more confident," he says. "I have been putting in a lot of time early in the morning and after practice to work things out. I have been watching a lot of film on myself before and on what I am changing and I have been talking to John (field goal kicker John Vaughn) quite a bit now. Things are starting to work out."

Zach Kutch is also Auburn's backup field goal kicker.

Kutch says he believes a couple of small adjustments will make a big difference. "They (other kickers) always told me I was putting the ball on the tee in a funny way and it would always fall off," he says.

"I changed up the way I put the ball on the tee and I changed up the way I am taking my steps. Instead of taking my steps straight down the field, I angle them now toward the corner so it is a nice easy swing to get them to go where I want to go."

Kutch adds, "Now I have flipped my tee completely over and the ball sits there perfectly for me now, just how I need it.

"I did a lot better on Saturday and I am going to continue to get better," he predicts. "I had two good kicks (vs. Ball State) and I am going to just do my best to make every kick better from there."

Tiger Ticket Extra: The freshman suffered a freak injury to a finger the day before the Mississippi State game. He was catching a football and had a mishap before leaving with his teammates for LaGrange, Ga., where the Tigers spend the night prior to home games. "When I caught the ball the bone shot out of the skin," he says. "They pushed it back in and sewed me up." The next day, his finger, with eight stitches in it, took a pounding from Mississippi State freshman kickoff returner Derek Pegues, who was stopped on a TD-saving tackle by Kutch, who used his high school defensive back skills and good speed to make the play. "After I made that tackle, man it hurt," he says. "It hurts every now and then. I just had two stitches taken out and I have six in it so it is going to be a while."

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