AU Camp Confidential: An Inside Look – Special Teams

August 15, 2018 By Skye Underwood

Kam Martin
Auburn football practice on Monday, Aug. 13, 2018 in Auburn, Ala.
Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

‘An Inside Look’ will be a three-part series focused on Auburn’s three main units – special teams, offense, and defense. Skye Underwood will pull back the curtain and unveil the details and players that you need to know as Auburn’s primetime non-conference top-ten matchup with Washington in Atlanta for the CFA Kickoff Game on Labor Day weekend draws near.

As Auburn Football continues its second full week of fall camp, today at Power of Dixieland, we serve up a smorgasbord of tidbits that’ll catch you up with all the movers and shakers on the Plains. Today we’ll start with the group that needs to make the biggest improvement from last season to 2018 — special teams.

‘An Inside Look’ – Special Teams

Before we get started, let me just say that I know special teams talk isn’t all that sexy, but if Auburn Football wants to take that next step and become the kind of program that competes for a national championship every year as opposed to every five years, special teams play has to drastically improve because the Tigers were abysmal in some areas last season.

Redshirt freshman placekicker Anders Carlson seems to be transitioning well in filling his big brother Daniel Carlson’s shoes. However, the elder Carlson set the bar high after becoming the the SEC’s all-time leading scorer during his record-breaking Auburn career, but going 6 for 6 kicking field goals during practice is a solid start for the younger Carlson. Anders has continued his elite kicking momentum that started in spring ball after the Colorado Springs, Colorado native nailed a 62-yarder in a scrimmage.

Auburn returns its starting punter from 2017 in Aidan Marshal, who has put on some muscle in the offseason and has had a solid camp, but the new arrival from “Down Under,” Arryn Siposs might be one of the most hyped punters in the history of Auburn Football and booming 70-yard punts in practice will only add to the hyperbole.

As some of you may already know, Siposs is from Australia where the 25-year-old spent five years playing Aussie Rules Football before turning his attention to the American version. Siposs began training with ProKick Australia, who sent out videos of Siposs’ training to prospective universities that were likely in search of a punter. ProKick Australia has built quite the reputation for itself after training the last five Ray Guy Award winners, given annually to the nation’s top punter.

Yes, Auburn won the SEC Western Division in 2017, but the Tigers’ punting left much to be desired, ranking 115th nationally in net-punting with a paltry average of 35.6 yards.

Auburn saw Siposs’ film, offered him a scholarship and as they say, “the rest is history” as Siposs joined the 2018 recruiting class. Interestingly, Siposs is actually listed as a sophomore, so he’ll have three years of eligibility remaining on the plains, which is plenty of time to etch his name into Auburn folklore.

Besides, the last time Auburn had a certified star at punter, Terry Daniel kicked the ball so far that former Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill accused him of inflating footballs with helium, which was of course proven to be preposterous. In 1993, Daniel earned All-America honors after averaging almost 47 yards per boot for the Tigers.

We’re holding firm on our prediction that Siposs will be ‘Power of Dixieland’s Newcomer of the Year’ for the Tigers because we believe he’ll make the biggest impact on the team among the newcomers when you consider how dreadful Auburn’s punting was last season.

It cannot be understated how beneficial the addition of an uber-talented punter to an already elite roster can do for the overall team in terms of field position where Auburn ranked towards the bottom of college football in 2017.

The Tigers won the West last season with below average punting, so it’s safe to say that we’ve NEVER been more anxious to see Auburn’s punt game than in 2018 after the addition of  the ‘Leg of Thunder from Down Under.’ Wait, I know you just didn’t. Oh, yes we just did.

Auburn’s punt return game last season was sub-par as the now departed Stephen Roberts was the starter, so the coaches will likely concede the role to sure-handed Auburn single-season reception (84) record holder Ryan Davis. The senior from St. Petersburg, Florida will again be one of Auburn’s most prominent playmakers on offense and will likely get the first chance to be the Tigers starting punt returner when Auburn battles Washington in Atlanta.

At 5-foot-11, 195-pounds, true-freshman cornerback Christian Tutt easily has some of the best hair on the team. That’s a given. But what also makes the early enrollee unique is not only his propensity to make plays on the field, he’s a technician as the former four-star from Thomson High School (GA) has used participating in spring ball to his advantage as it appears he’s earned a backup role as the punt returner, but more importantly Tutt likely will be one of Auburn’s top backup options at one of the two corner spots.

Another true-freshman vying for the role as Auburn’s punt returner, or at the very least as a backup to Ryan Davis, Matthew Hill is another potential playmaker out of the Peach State that could bring electricity to the return game. Out of all the incoming true-freshman, Hill’s name has echoed the most throughout fall camp among his fellow teammates and coaches.

Auburn’s kickoff return team wasn’t much better than its punt return squad in 2017. Again, these are two critical areas that need improvement in 2018, but Auburn certainly has the athletes to help turn things around.

Sophomore wide receiver turned defensive back Noah Igbinoghene had a 70-yard kickoff return against Ole Miss before coming on strong at the end of Auburn’s season, specifically in the Peach Bowl when he had a 72-yard kickoff return versus UCF.

Now going into his second season on the Plains, the former four-star will be a little more seasoned as a sophomore, so hopefully more experience translates to more big plays. Can you imagine Igbinoghene taking one back against Washington? That would be noice.

 

The likely starting runningback versus Washington will be Kam Martin and he’ll join Igbinoghene on the field to return kickoffs. This is actually the same combination of players that Auburn used for kickoff returns in 2017. The Tigers definitely have a golden opportunity to vastly improve some of their most critical parts on special teams and both Igbignoghene and Martin will be two players Malzahn will lean on to help improve Auburn’s kickoff return game.

3-Part Series AU Camp Confidential: ‘An Inside Look

Special Teams:
http://www.powerofdixieland.com/2018/08/15/au-camp-confidential-an-inside-look/

Offense:
http://www.powerofdixieland.com/2018/08/18/au-camp-confidential-an-inside-look-offense/

Defense:

http://www.powerofdixieland.com/2018/08/26/au-camp-confidential-an-inside-look-defense/