Tommy Tuberville discusses, in depth, the successes his team has had in the kicking game this season…
Bliss Looking Forward to Kicking it in Dallas
Auburn, Ala.--Auburn punter Kody Bliss will end his college career against Nebraska on Jan. 1 capping off an impressive four-year run with the Tigers. Gradually getting better with his punting averages, Bliss is up to 46.1 yards per kick as a senior and will have a chance to play at the next level. "Right now there are probably going to be seven or eight good punters (pro prospects) out there," Bliss explains. "A lot of it depends on the combines, how you do at the all-star games, the pro days and everything like that. I think I have as good of a shot as any right now. I've had four good seasons here with good net averages and I've been in the top 15 every season in net. I think that's one of the main things the NFL teams are going to look for is the consistency, the hang time and the inside-the-20 capability." Bliss' 46.1-yard average on 41 punts would have been the best in the SEC, but according to the official statistics there is a 3.6 punt per game minimum. Somehow, perhaps for the simple fact that his last name isn't Colquitt, Bliss was selected as a second team instead of a first team All-SEC player by the AP and the league's coaches. Bliss also led the SEC in net punting with a 39-yard average. Tennessee's Britton Colquitt had a 45-yard average, also on 41 punts, and made the official stats because he played in one less game. He was named to the first team. With the Tigers in position for a BCS game until the loss to Georgia near the end of the season, Bliss says that even though a BCS game was the goal the Tigers still had a successful season. "With the way this season worked out, going into the last week of the regular season if Arkansas had beaten LSU we were probably looking at a BCS spot," Bliss explains. "That didn't work out for us. After that we knew that you couldn't have three teams from one conference and we were going to be that third-ranked team in our conference even though we beat LSU. We kind of knew we weren't going to get into the BCS so we were looking at other bowl opportunities. "From my perspective Nebraska was the team I wanted to play--get a team from a different conference that I haven't played before," he adds. "We've been to Orlando before and we've played the Big 10 teams so it's nice to play a team from a different conference for once." Florida, which is the BCS championship game, lost only to Auburn this season. LSU, which lost to only Florida and Auburn, is playing in the Sugar Bowl. Auburn is the only team to beat two BCS teams this season and has the same record as at-large LSU and Notre Dame, but the Tigers were left out of the picture. However, Bliss says he's excited about the trip to Dallas. "I've flown through Dallas once when I was a lot younger, but I've never been in the city," he says. "I'm excited to get down there and spend a week seeing all of the sights and everything. "My wife is a history teacher, and we're only a half-mile away from where Kennedy got shot," Bliss continues. "So she's real excited about going there, going to the museums and things like that and the conspiracy museum. It'll be exciting if we get a chance to go to the Mavericks games or the Cowboys games. We've also got the hockey team so there should be a lot of things to end up doing." Seniors and long-time friends Bliss and John Vaughn have left their mark on the Auburn program. The Tiger seniors have won 40 games during their career, which is one more than the record set by last year's seniors. Also, this year's group will be playing in its fourth bowl game and third consecutive New Year's game. "This isn't the ‘90s where you're going to have a Florida team win five or six (SEC titles)," Bliss explains. "This is with the scholarship limitations evening the playing field. It's hard to be year in and year out an absolute powerhouse. I think that's what you're seeing now. USC was barely able to do it for a couple of years and now they're a two-loss team just like us. It's hard to be there year in and year out. "We had a lot of good games this season, but we were riddled with injuries by the end of the year and that hurt us a lot," he adds. "If we played Georgia at the beginning or Arkansas at the beginning of the season I think it's a lot closer game and we come out on top, but that's not how the season goes. "You can look at it that if we play LSU later in the season, maybe we don't beat them. That's just one of the factors that people forget to think about. When you look at the 2004 team, basically every starter wasn't injured and everyone was healthy for that entire season somehow. The Cotton is the bowl after we got knocked out of the BCS that we wanted to go to, in my opinion, just to get a change of scenery for once."
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