Special Teams Up And Down In AU Victory

Coach Eddie Gran talks about the good and bad from Auburn's special teams in the 37-20 win over UT-Martin.

Auburn, Ala.--Normally following a game that featured a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 31-yard punt return would leave the special teams coach smiling, but that was far from the case for Auburn's Eddie Gran on Saturday.

A fumbled punt for a touchdown by Robert Dunn, a 20-yard punt by Clinton Durst, and missed field goal and kickoff out of bounds by Wes Byrum, and 203 yards in kickoff returns were all enough to leave Gran very upset following the 37-20 victory over UT-Martin.

The biggest of the mistakes came by Dunn. Following Tristan Davis' second kickoff return for a touchdown this season, Auburn's defense held the Skyhawks and forced a punt. Trying to make something happen, Dunn attempted to field a punt around his own goal line. He fumbled and it was recovered by UT-Martin for a touchdown. Gran said that can't happen.

"It's just so bad," Gran said. "You practice that all year long. You practice that in the off season. The rule is you've got a 10-yard rule. If you back up past the 10-yard line then you let it go. It's a pretty simple rule. It's inexcusable. You can't do that to your defense. You back them up and give them seven points off the bat. It's ridiculous. You had momentum and we lost it. It's unlike him. Those decisions he hasn't made them all year long."

Something else Auburn hasn't done all year long is have trouble on kickoff coverage. An Achille's heel for the Tigers in 2007, giving up big play cost the Tigers on Saturday and almost wound up being the difference in the game.

"We had two kickoff returns that got out on us," Gran said. "Kickoff returns this whole year have been really, really good. We haven't had anything out past the 30-yard line. We had a guy contained and we lost contain and couldn't wrap it up. It's inexcusable. We had a little bit different lineup, but you've got to fit those wedges and wrap up. We talked about it all week."

Even after the mistake the Tigers stuck with Dunn. Following a Chris Slaughter punt return for seven yards, Dunn got back on the field and almost took one the distance. Gran said it was important to get the senior back on the field and feeling good about himself again.

"We were just trying to get him back in and give him some confidence," Gran said. "We're going to need him the next two games. We wanted to get him back in there and give him some confidence."


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