Clark On the Mark With Kickoffs

Walk-on Matt Clark discusses his performance as Auburn's kickoff specialist.

Auburn, Ala.--Although it may have been overlooked by some fans, the improvement in Auburn's kickoffs from early season through Saturday's Ole Miss game has been one of the bright spots for the 2005 football Tigers.

Eddie Gran, who coaches special teams, says that walk-on Matt Clark has done a good job of stabilizing the situation.

"He had three touchbacks and the other three were placed in the right spot in the Ole Miss game," says Gran, whose kickoff coverage team forced the Rebels to start possessions on their own 16, 13, 20, 20, 20 and 26 yard lines in Auburn's 27-6 victory over the Rebels.

"He has really taken this thing in stride," Gran says. "I am just so glad he came to us and wanted another shot. We just couldn't bring him in at the start of fall practice because of the numbers (NCAA limits on practice squad size)."

Clark kicks off for the Tigers.

Clark says that he feels like he is improving as he gains game experience. "My consistency is getting better. I still notice that I do a little stutter step here and there, but as long as I hit the ball solid I am happy. I still have a way to go, but my consistency is a little better."

Clark had previously walked-on, but was playing intramural football when he decided to take another shot at playing for the Tigers after freshman Zach Kutch struggled with his kickoffs early in the season and punter Kody Bliss was inconsistent as the Plan B.

"I am definitely more comfortable out there kicking now," Clark says. I don't notice the crowd now. I just focus on what I am doing."

Clark says he was also pleased with his kickoffs the previous week at LSU. "That game was a real good one for me with three touchbacks and we had to do a squib kick to the right when we were kicking into the wind so Skyler Green wouldn't have a chance to return it. That went well.

"We almost got caught a break when the ball hit a guy in their front line and almost bounced back, but it kept on going," he notes. "If it bounced back, we could have won the game."

Clark says he is extremely happy that fellow kicker John Vaughn bounced back from a rough night at LSU and made both of his field goal attempts vs. Ole Miss.

"I don't think many people know what it is like to have a game like that and then come back the next week and be able to step up and have a game like he did. I think he is one of the top kickers in college football and I think he went out there and proved it."

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