Freshman Steven Clark had taken over in sixth week
By ANDY BITTER
110C0E7810572960110AF5681202EB18104551D8105F5C18112DA788104B5AA011FE0DB0AUBURN, Ala. -- Senior Ryan Shoemaker will get the nod at punter for Auburn to start the Iron Bowl next Friday.
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“Unless he gets into a funk,” special-teams coordinator Jay Boulware said. “We’re going to pretty much go with him for right now. He’s a senior. Hopefully, he can get out there and do a solid job for us.”
Auburn has juggled its punters this year. Shoemaker started the year but was mediocre, giving way to freshman Steven Clark in the sixth week.
Clark averaged only 34.9 yards per punt, prompting the coaches to go back to Shoemaker two weeks ago against Chattanooga.
The senior averaged 42.5 yards on two punts against Georgia, although one that should have been downed at the 1-yard line was knocked into the end zone.
Auburn’s net punting ranks 99th nationally. Boulware said his punters kick it better in practice than games, which is frustrating.
“Not with Steven so much,” Boulware said. “He’s a young kid. He has a lot of technical things he has to fix. It’s really hard for a freshman punter to play … and do really well.
“Shoemaker -- he’s inconsistent. I’ve been working really hard with him the last couple weeks trying to get him up to speed.”
Out for the Iron Bowl
Injured safety Aairon Savage won’t return in time for the Iron Bowl, head coach Gene Chizik said.
Savage had surgery after breaking a bone in his right ankle against Arkansas. His hope was to get back in time for the Alabama game, although Chizik said a more realistic goal is the bowl game.
“Don’t know that we’ll get there or not, but we’ll continue to try to work in that direction,” he said.
Savage was granted a sixth year of eligibility after losing back-to-back seasons to ACL and Achilles’ injuries.
Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker didn’t mince words when it came to senior defensive linemen Michael Goggans and Mike Blanc getting ejected at the end of the Georgia game for throwing punches.
“Just meeting with both of them, I made it clear that it was an embarrassment,” Rocker said. “That’s not what we teach, it’s not what we’re about.
“And just to let them know that you affected this team. And your selfish act affected this team. Everybody’s looking at it as a defensive line, but it affects the team. On from that, I have to get it done, get it cleaned up and get the young players ready to go and just keep moving ahead.”
Under the lights
Auburn has spent the last two nights practicing at Jordan-Hare Stadium instead of at the athletic complex and will continue to do so leading up to the Iron Bowl.
“It’s good to practice under the lights, a little bit of change of venue,” Chizik said. “We’ll continue to do that. Change of pace. Haven’t done it all year.”
Chizik said it didn’t have anything to do with construction on the new indoor practice facility, which has begun on the outer portion of the practice fields behind the complex.
The plan ahead
Auburn has a walkthrough today before taking Saturday off. The Tigers resume practice Sunday and will go through Wednesday.
Thanksgiving will be a walkthrough in the morning, followed by a team function.
“Then give them a little bit of time away before we get on the buses and head out,” Chizik said.
Chizik said there’s a small window for players who live close by to go home and see their families.
“What usually happens is their families come here,” he said.