High Marks For Kicking Game, Tuberville Says

The report features comments from Auburn's head football coach.

Auburn, Ala.--Through five games this season, head coach Tommy Tuberville says he would have to give his team a "solid A" on grading its performance in the kicking game.

John Vaughn has made 8-10 field goals, Kody Bliss is on school-record pace averaging 49.5 yards per punt and Matt Clark has been consistently been launching kickoffs into the end zone.

"It's been the best kicking game we have had," Tuberville says. "John has been on target most of the year.

"You couldn't ask for a better performance out of a punter," he adds. "Kody had a 69-yard punt the other night in a hostile environment. Our kickoff guy didn't have the best week of kicking the ball in the end zone. He caught a couple of them a little fat and got it up and they had a chance to return, but we covered. That had been a big question mark--is our coverage team going to cover when we don't get in the end zone and we passed that with flying colors.

Kody Bliss is a fourth-year starter for the Tigers.

"I think that Eddie Gran has done a good job of changing things around," the head coach notes of the running backs coach who also is in charge of special teams. "We are going to make some changes this week on our punt return team personnel--I'm not talking about the returner--and just some philosophy on what we are doing because we are not getting as much out of that as what we had hoped. You are always looking for ways to make yourself better."

Auburn, 5-0 going into Saturday's home game vs. Arkansas, is 3-0 in the SEC while the Razorbacks are 2-0 in conference games.

In Thursday's victory over South Carolina, the kickoff team executed an onsides kick that allowed Auburn to keep possession of the football for the entire third quarter following a field goal. "You try that and if it works it works, if it doesn't then I get hung the next week for about seven days," Tuberville says. "It worked, but I would have had confidence that our football team would have gone and won the game if we didn't kick it. It was just one of those things where we felt like we needed to change the momentum.

"Special teams have been good to us this year, it's been the most solid part of our football team," the coach contends. "We have been hit and miss with offense and hit and miss with defense, but special teams have been pretty solid and hopefully they continue to do that."


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