Getting His Kicks

Sophomore kicker Philip Yost gets his shot this weekend when the Tigers play host to LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.--It has been three long years since Philip Yost kicked a field goal in a real football game. For the Auburn High product that has sometimes been a tough thing to deal with, but the sophomore says he didn't want to get the kicking job at Auburn this way

With fellow kicker Damon Duval struggling to find the mark, Coach Tommy Tuberville and staff had no choice but to turn to Yost, who says he's ready for the challenge.

"I'm just excited to get my chance," Yost says. "I didn't know when it was going to come or anything like that, I'm just excited about the opportunity and the chance. I found out (Sunday) at practice. They let me know. I wasn't expecting anything until they told me."

Philip Yost will take over the field goal duties for Damon Duval this week against LSU.

A Parade All-American his senior year when he connected on 11-of-15 field goals and all of his extra point attempts, Yost was hoping to make an immediate impact on the college level. Kicking without a tee in his junior and senior seasons to prepare for just that moment, Yost had a career long field goal of 52 yards as a senior, but still had a lot to learn and work on when he arrived on campus. He credits Duval for teaching and working with him to make him the kicker he is now.

"We've talked," Yost says of his relationship with Duval since being named the kicker. "He's been very encouraging. One of the blessings of waiting a year or two behind Damon is learning from him. I've learned a lot just from watching him kick and being with him everyday at practice.

"We both understand the decision is to benefit the team in the best way, to make the team better. His encouragement has helped me a lot."

A preseason All-American heading into his senior season after a solid junior campaign that saw him make 16-of-26 field goals, including game winners against Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Florida, Duval has been anything but stellar as a senior. Just 4-of-10 in 2002 with two misses of less than 30 yards, including a 23-yarder that would have won Saturday's game at Florida, the senior left the coaching staff no choice.

"As a kicker you know what they go through," Yost notes of Duval's situation. "No matter what happens, whether they are in a slump or whatever, you understand what they are going through. Damon has done so much for this university in the past four years he's been here. He's one of the greatest kickers I've ever seen so it's difficult the way it happened, but I'm excited about the opportunity to help this team win and get back in the SEC race. That's the main goal for both of us."

Early in the season the coaching staff had a chance to get Yost into a game against Western Carolina for an extra point attempt, which he made. Although the game was a blowout at the time, he said the experience was good for him. Even bigger was a few weeks later when Duval was suffering from a strained groin against Syracuse. Trying to lessen his load, the coaching staff decided to use Yost on all the kickoffs in the game and he responded by kicking all but one into the end zone for touchbacks. It will be a different story for the laid back sophomore this week against LSU when the pressure is on, but he says the experience he's had this season will pay dividends when the time comes.

"It's been very important," Yost notes. "It was good to get in and experience being in the game for a couple of plays and being more involved. I'm just looking to help the team in whatever they want me to do."


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