Auburn football: Tigers put 'the pressure on' specialists during Saturday's scrimmage

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comApril 12, 2014 

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn admitted his team won't be able to 'sneak up on anybody' this fall after their turnaround season in 2013.

JOE PAULL — jpaull@ledger-enquirer.com

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s specialists were under the gun during Saturday’s practice.

As the Tigers attempt to replace a pair of seniors in kicker Cody Parkey and punter Steven Clark, a redshirt freshmen duo has taken center stage. During both the middle and end of Saturday’s session at Jordan-Hare Stadium, coach Gus Malzahn said the kickers became live targets.

“We put the kickers in some situations as game-like as possible with the pressure on,” he said. “I think they’ve responded fairly well with that.”

Though there are a multiple players vying for the starting job — including walk-ons Alex Kviklis and Duncan McKinney — the man at the top of the depth chart is Daniel Carlson. It’s the same story at punter. Like Carlson, Jimmy Hutchinson sat out last year but now finds himself as the presumed starter heading into next season.

Another redshirt freshman duo — Tyler Stovall and Jack Bjork — are also competing to become the Tigers’ newest punter. Whether any of the specialists will take the field in next Saturday’s A-Day game is uncertain. Malzahn said the same format as last year will be used; in that contest, Parkey kicked two field goals while no punts were attempted.

Regardless of how things shake out at both spots, Malzahn’s biggest concern was that each candidate shares the same problem: None have ever been in a live game at the college level.

“We’re trying to put them through as many game-like situations as we can with the pressure on and all that during the spring,” he said last month. “But both of them — or really I should say all of them — that (are) competing for the job are talented. It’s just a matter of getting experience.”

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