AU Receiver In Improvement Mode

Wide receiver and punt returner Robert Dunn talks about his big return in Saturday night's win over Kansas State.

Auburn, Ala.--Robert Dunn will be the first to admit he's had his struggles as Auburn's punt returner on and off for the last year.

He even had his problems in Saturday night's opener with Kansas State with a muffed punt that he eventually recovered on his own two-yard line in what could have been a disastrous mistake. He more than made up for that though with a 57-yard return that helped Auburn on the way to a comeback win over Kansas State.

Trailing 13-6 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Dunn took a punt from KSU's Tim Reyer on his own 28-yard line and was off to the races. Making a great move in the middle of the field to dodge a defender, Dunn ran down the right sideline before being caught by Marcus Perry at the Wildcat 15. Although Auburn eventually settled for a field goal, the play energized the Auburn crowd that was deafening in the fourth quarter of the win.

"That felt so good," Dunn says. "I have been the punt returner here, this is my second year, and that was the first actual big punt return I've had. That's just real exciting. I feel like it's an example of things to come this year. I'm going to continue to work hard and keep praying about it and hopefully I'll have a whole lot of them this season."

On the play Dunn says the Tigers changed their approach and decided to keep the gunners off him for a split second longer. He says he believes that was the difference he needed because it allowed him time to set up his blocks and make a big play.

"Coach (Eddie Gran) called a double max, that's where we have a middle return and two guys outside blocking the gunners," Dunn says. "I have time to catch the ball and scan my coverage. I caught the ball and I see that nobody is there for like 10 yards away from me. The key is to set the guys up like you're going outside and make the break for the middle. When I came outside James Swinton was there.

"I was kind of depending on him because if he wouldn't have made the block I would have gotten crushed. I was depending on him so he came through with the block and I hit the seam. From there on it was just me using my vision and using my blocks. They threw some great blocks. This was probably one of the best nights blocking for punts that we've had since I've been at returner."

Although he had just one catch for six yards on the night, Dunn played a lot of snaps as Auburn's slot receiver Saturday night. While he wasn't happy with the way things went for much of the night, the junior notes how proud he was of the unit for sticking together and finding a way to win.

"It just shows that we've got heart," Dunn says. "That's what we based our whole summer on, not quitting. We came into the fourth quarter down, but everybody stuck it out and kept their head up. We came out on the up side. The coaches have been preaching it and most of the time the stuff the coaches preach is right. They proved us right."

Senior quarterback Brandon Cox is the trigger man for the Auburn offense and easily the most important player on that side of the ball because of his experience in big games and usual consistency in the pocket. Against Kansas State, Cox struggled to find his rhythm early and heading into the final drive was just 12-24 for 166 yards and two interceptions, but when he was needed the most he delivered once again.

On the final drive Cox completed five of six passes for 63 yards, including a touchdown to Gabe McKenzie to put the Tigers ahead for good. Cox may not have been great Saturday night but Dunn said he'll follow him until the very end win or lose.

"I'm behind B.C. 100 percent this year," Dunn says. "Whatever choices he makes I'm making him with him. If anybody has anything to say they've got to say it to me, too, if they're going to say it to him. I just told him to stay cool in the pocket. We got a little more pressure than we expected. They blitzed a whole lot so we really couldn't get off the passes that we wanted. We moved the chains when we had to move the chains and got things rolling."

Things don't get any easier for Dunn and the Tigers this week as they face a very experienced and talented South Florida squad in game two. Dunn says right now he's only concerned with improving and everything else will take care of itself.

"We've got to work on everything," the receiver says. "We've got high hopes this year. We feel like this is our year this year. Right now we're not where we need to be. We can get better at every position.

"We played a decent game. We came out kind of slow, but towards the end we picked it up. If we want to accomplish our goals we have to come out and play from start to finish with that intensity we had at the end of the game."



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