Byrum Looking For Answers

Auburn kicker Wes Byrum talks about his tough 2008 season and what he's doing to correct it.

Auburn, Ala.--The 2008 season has been one to forget for Auburn sophomore kicker Wes Byrum. After a fantastic freshman year when he connected on 17-23 field goals, Byrum is just 8-14 through eight games and has made just three of his last eight attempts.

Because of his struggles Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville has opened up the kicking duties in practice this week with both Morgan Hull and punter Clinton Durst getting a look at field goal duties. Byrum says the competition has turned into a positive for everyone involved.

"It's good," Byrum says. "I think I always do better when there is more competition. Durst is good. He's hit the ball real well for someone who has never kicked field goals. Hull is hitting the ball great. I think everybody is working a lot harder."

Byrum's problems kicking the ball have come as a surprise to anyone that watched him last season and during fall practice. Kicking the ball exceptionally well for the last year he says right now it's just a matter of pushing through and finding out how to fix things.

"It's a little tough because I know I can kick the ball," Byrum says. "I know I can make them. I know I'm a good kicker. It's just I'm in a spot right now that is tough to get through."

Knowing what to fix and actually fixing it are two very different things and that is the battle that Byrum is facing at the moment. Much like a golfer faces swing problems from time to time, so does a kicker. Byrum notes because of that he's consulted several people that may be able to spot some things he's doing wrong.

"I have talked with John Vaughn a lot because he's back here in school," Byrum says. "He's finishing up his last semester. I have talked with my high school coaches. I have talked with several people trying to pinpoint things.

"It's just little stuff like my plant foot is too far in front," he adds. "I'm just not consistently putting my foot in the same spots."

Here is a photo of Byrum's posture just after impact when he arrived at Auburn last summer. Compare that to the shot from the first field goal attempt at West Virginia at the top of the story.

Working on improving his steps, plant foot and everything involved with kicking the ball, Byrum says now it comes down to just getting the job done. That's what he's focusing on this week in practice.

"It's technique but really after the last few weeks I just need to get the ball through the uprights," Byrum says. "All in all, you can have the best technique but when it comes down to it you just have to kick it through. It doesn't matter how you do it, it just has to go through."

With an open competition heading into Saturday's 11:30 a.m. kickoff at Ole Miss, Auburn's kicker may not be known until after pregame warmups. Because of that Byrum says he'll just keep trying to do his best and let the coaches sort out the rest.

"I don't know," Byrum says. "Hopefully it will be me. I'm working hard and I've made a lot of strides. I'm kicking the ball solid and a lot better. I guess it just comes down to who they want out there."


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