Auburn, Ala.--Steven Clark earned praise from head coach Gene Chizik and defensive coordinator Ted Roof for his performance against South Carolina on Saturday. On Monday the punter was honored as the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.
The sophomore from Kansas City punted seven times in Auburn’s 16-13 football victory at Williams-Brice Stadium, including five that were downed inside the South Carolina 13. After his punts, the Gamecocks’ average starting field position was its 16-yard line.
The Gamecocks were unable to return any of his punts and for the season only three of Clark’s punts have been returned.
Roof said that Clark’s punts were a major key in the defensive success the Tigers enjoyed vs. the Gamecocks. “What that game was, that was a game of field position,” the defensive coordinator pointed out. “We played on a long field most of the night. That was a big, big factor for our defense. Football is a game of field position and takeaways and we did a good job of that.”
Clark is the first Auburn player to have five punts downed inside the 20 since Jaret Holmes did it vs. Arkansas in 1997. For the season the Auburn sophomore leads the SEC in punts inside the 20 with 14.
Chizik pointed out the Tigers spend a significant amount of practice time on downing punts near the opponent’s goal line. “There is really not a phase of our special teams that we don’t spend a lot of time on,” the coach said. “Saturday was a great case in point of how special teams played a part. We spend a lot of time on that in what we call sky punt territory. The guys did a great job with it.”
Clark and the 4-1 Auburn Tigers return to action with a 6 p.m. game at Arkansas on Saturday. The Tigers will return home the following week for a 6 p.m. contest vs. Florida.
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