Special Teams A Priority For Boulware

Auburn assistant coach Jay Boulware talks about his duties on special teams and offense for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--For new Auburn tight end and special teams coach Jay Boulware, the last month has been a whirlwind of activity as he was hired by Gene Chizik after coaching with him at Iowa State, got on the road recruiting, and hasn't slowed down since.

Heading into spring practice in one month, the Tigers have plenty of work to do on offense after a tough 2008 season. To make matters tough they'll be doing it while learning a new offensive system from new coaches. Boulware said while there is plenty of things to be done between now and spring practice, the one thing that he's sure of is that the pieces are in place from a coaching perspective.

"Phenomenal, there is no other way to put it," Boulware said of his time at Auburn to this point. "This is a great place. The coaching staff, we're all ecstatic about being here. It's a special place. We're looking forward to it.

"It's awesome," he added on the staff. "Absolutely awesome. Gus Malzahn and Ted Roof are first-class guys. Curtis Luper, Trooper Taylor, Jeff Grimes, Tracy Rocker, (Tommy) Thigpen, it's the best staff I've ever been on including when I was a GA at Texas. This is an awesome group of guys. I think it's a great group of teachers, recruiters, family men. Coach Chizik always talks about all three and we have all three in every single coach on our staff."

While he will have responsibilities on offense, perhaps Boulware's biggest duty will come on special teams for the Tigers. Returning kicker Wes Byrum and back up Morgan Hull as well as punter Clinton Durst as well as back up Ryan Shoemaker, Boulware said he's looking forward to seeing how those guys develop in the spring as well as the entire unit in every phase of the kicking game.

"My goal for us here at Auburn is to be the best in the country," Boulware said. "I don't want to be just the best in the conference, I want to be the best in the country. In order to do that we've got to raise the bar, including our kicker whoever that may be. There is going to be a guy that is going into the season as our kicker. There is going to be a guy that is going to go into the season and be our punter. The same thing with the long snapper."

One part of the game that Boulware said he noticed needed some work was on the coverage side of things on special teams, especially on the kickoff team.

Everybody keeps saying that they weren't good in special teams," Boulware said. "I've heard it over and over again. When I hear that I say you're wrong because you had a punt returner that took two to the house. You had a kick returner that took two to the house. The only area that I felt like that was deficient was the kickoff coverage unit. I felt like that could be much more aggressive, much more physical, had much more of a presence in games."

Offensively, Boulware will technically be the tight ends coach for the Tigers. Normally that would be a pretty basic position to coach, but he said under Malzahn that's going to entail some very different things.

"I really can't speak intelligently about the position right now because as you guys know Trott (Tommy Trott) is not out there right now," Boulware said. "He's a key component to what we're talking about doing. We're bringing in some young guys as well. We're still figuring out guys out to be honest with you.

"We're basically coaching positions," he added. "There will be some crossovers at every position in terms of who we're coaching. We're coaching the position on the field and it may not always be the tight end. It may be whoever…we all have skills whether it's Trooper Taylor in the passing game teaching Tommy Trott how to run a seven-cut route. We're going to utilize the things we do best as a staff and come up with a package. There are going to be a number of different guys that I'll probably end up working with that might end up in the tight end role. The thing our offense provides is versatility. We want to do the same things out of different personnel."

With Trott likely out of contact for the spring, Boulware said that senior Gabe McKenzie will get a look at the three-back (H-Back) role as well as the five-back (true tight end) in the spring. He said that there will be several different players that will see time at the different positions in the spring as the Tigers try to get Malzahn's base offense installed.

In his first year on the job Boulware said right now he's excited about putting the things he's learned from his past experience into action at Auburn. With the role of Auburn's special teams coordinator as well as his duties on offense, Boulware said that he hopes fans will be able to tell his influence on the team after he has a chance to work with them.

"If you ask me what I'll be known for here, it will probably be something you guys will never see, but the kids will know that they will be coached and well prepared for the next level," Boulware said. "That's what we will leave them with. They'll know how to get off a press man if they're a gunner. They'll know how to cover a kick. They'll know how to hold up on a punt return. They'll know how to execute an assignment on kickoff return. They'll be very good at it. If I had one thing we'll be known for it is coaching our guys in great detail."

Tiger Ticket Extra: One of the players Auburn signed for the 2009 class that could have a chance to play right away is tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen. Boulware said watching him in action it's plain to see he'll have every opportunity to help the Tigers right away.

"He's a phenomenal athlete with tremendous hands," Boulware said. "We plan on Philip being a big part of what we're doing next season. I think Philip is exactly what we're looking for. I look forward to coaching him. I like his attitude. I like his demeanor. I like everything about the kid right now."

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