Vaughn and Clark Help Tigers Kick Cougars

The Auburn coaches put special emphasis on the kicking game heading into the 2006 opener. The results were positive as John Vaughn made four field goals and the Tigers won the battle of field position.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn special teams weren't perfect in the 40-14 win over Washington State, but for the first game of the season it was a solid performance all around in the kicking game.

The star of the show early on was senior John Vaughn, who scored Auburn's first 12 points while the offense sputtered on third down conversions in Cougar territory.

"We talked about it before the game how the offense might start a little slow," Vaughn says. "In the first game of the year third downs are a little tough to convert when you're not really in a rhythm."

Vaughn, who made 4-5 FG attempts and 4-4 PATs, hit a 57-yard field goal in pregame warm-ups and he says he felt good and loose to have a strong game after that. His second field goal in the first quarter set a career long of 44 yards, only to come back minutes later with a 52-yard bomb to give Auburn the lead for good at 9-7.

"I thought that first one was right on the border there," he says of the 44-yard make. "I definitely knew the 52 yarder was (a personal best). My leg has gotten a lot stronger so I'm just trying to keep it straight.

"To be honest, I hit the ball hard in warm-ups," Vaughn adds. "So if I hit this one solid it's going to go. As far as it is, the uprights are a little more narrow from back there, too. So really I just tried to concentrate and make sure I hit it straight and give it a chance."

On Vaughn's one miss from 36 yards out, he says, "I've got to do a lot better than that. I just kind of pulled it."

While Vaughn was tacking on point after point early in the contest, senior kickoff man Matt Clark was relied on to keep the Cougars pinned and not let them turn the field position around.

The strong-legged walk-on held up his end of the deal and kept field position in Auburn's favor by kicking seven touchbacks in nine tries.

"Clark had a great night tonight," Vaughn says. "He's got a tremendous leg. He really showed it tonight, he hit the ball well and our coverage was good. The kickoff team did a really good job."

On the other end the Auburn return team did a solid job, too. Safety/kick returner Tristan Davis set up the offense at the 35-yard line on a 30-yard return in the first quarter and at the 42-yard line with a 37-yard return to start the second half.

The net averages on kickoffs were 44.3 for the Tigers and 32.7 for the Cougars. Senior punter Kody Bliss didn't see much action, but averaged 49 yards per punt with a 45 net average.

Auburn punt returner Robert Dunn wasn't spectacular by any means, but he took care of the football and didn't make any mistakes in a game where the Auburn offense rolled up 484 yards.


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