Spring Football Preview: Punt Teams

Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles previewing spring football practice.

Auburn, Ala.--With the starting punter, field goal kicker and kickoff specialist all returning, the emphasis on the kicking game for spring practice will be on the coverage and protection teams.

"The biggest focus in the spring is always on the punt team, especially when you have seniors who have graduated," says Auburn assistant coach Eddie Gran. "We have to find new guys to take care of the spots where Cooper Wallace, Travis Williams, Antarrious Williams and Jake Slaughter who were on that team, guys who have had a big part on what we do. That will be the number one focus for our 15 spring practices.

After that, the probably the biggest concern will be a punt returner and solidifying that position," Gran says. "Courtney Taylor is a guy who will get a shot back there. He is excited about that opportunity."

Tre Smith handled the punt return duties most of the season, but wide receiver Robert Dunn took over at the end of the season after Smith had fumble problems. Gran says that Smith will get a look at returning punts again, but will not go into the competition as the favorite.

"Robert Dunn will get an opportunity back there," Gran says. "Jeraud Powers is a guy who wants to try it and Aairon Savage wants to try it." Savage and Powers are both cornerbacks who were redshirted last fall.

Robert Dunn has big-play potential as a return man.

"Anthony Campbell is another guy we will look at there," Gran says. "We will see how much he has grown up. In terms of a pure catcher back there, he is a guy you want to have back there doing it. We have got to have confidence in him and he has to give us a reason to have confidence in him.

"Lee Guess is a guy who has sure hands and can do it, but I am looking for a home run hitter," Gran notes. "A 10-yard average is good, but we need somebody to break for touchdowns.

"We have averaged 10 yards or more except for last year and that was due to the fact that we dropped some balls and we didn't get guys on the outside blocked enough. Those are some of the things we will concentrate on the spring."

Kody Bliss is a returning All-SEC performer.

Gran says he is looking forward to having Bliss back as a senior. "I think Kody has been one of the best players in the league the past three years."

The Tigers will start spring drills on Feb. 28th and the annual A-Day Game is March 18th.



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