Over the next few weeks, SEC Country will take Auburn football fans to Summer School. Each session will focus on one position on Auburn’s 2018 roster, finding answers from spring practice and looking ahead to what might be the biggest questions for the fall.
We finish the series this week with Auburn’s specialists on Tuesday and the returners on Wednesday.
- Anders Carlson (redshirt freshman)
- Ian Shannon (junior)
- Arryn Siposs (freshman — summer arrival)
- Aidan Marshall (sophomore)
- Ian Shannon (junior)
- LONG SNAPPER
- Bill Taylor (redshirt freshman)
Answers from spring practice
Can Anders Carlson replicate his older brother’s power on field goals?
Daniel Carlson wasn’t lying when he told reporters late last year that his younger brother, Anders, could be stronger than he was as a freshman. Carlson drilled deep kicks throughout spring camp as he claimed the No. 1 kicker spot from his older brother, who is now with the Minnesota Vikings.
Carlson’s highlight was a 62-yard field goal he drilled at the end of scrimmage inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. During the annual A-Day spring game, he hit all 4 of his field goal attempts, including one from 53 yards. The strong leg ran in the family, so Auburn should continue to have a weapon on kickoffs and anytime its offense crosses midfield.
Is the punter job Arryn Siposs’ to lose?
The stage is set for Arryn Siposs, the former Australian rules football player, to take over as the Tigers’ punter in 2018. In spring practice, Auburn moved former starting punter Ian Shannon to holder and backup kicker. Aidan Marshall, the walk-on who replaced him last season, didn’t drastically increase his punting distance during spring practice.
Siposs hasn’t arrived on Auburn’s campus yet, but he’s expected to before the start of fall camp. Auburn has embraced the revolution from Down Under that is sweeping college football, and Siposs shouldn’t have much of a problem taking the reins.
Numbers to know
61: According to Football Outsiders, Auburn ranked 61st nationally in special team S&P+ last season. In the three previous years under Gus Malzahn, Auburn ranked 28th, 17th and 15th, respectively. That shows how much the unit stepped backward as a whole last fall.
Questions for fall
Will Auburn’s special teams unit improve in the face of all this change?
Carlson and Siposs aren’t the only new leaders on special teams. Tight ends and H-backs coach Larry Porter is the new special teams coordinator, swapping secondary roles with running backs coach Tim Horton after Auburn’s lackluster 2017 season on special teams. Coverage and protection were also issues for Auburn, which got an underwhelming final season from Daniel Carlson.
Porter’s move to coordinator meant the Tigers have changed some responsibilities in specific special teams units. Auburn needs the younger Carlson to find a good rhythm with his new holder and long snapper, as all three units have new starters in 2018. The Tigers might not have an elite special teams unit this fall, but they need to head in that direction.
What can Auburn expect from Anders Carlson as a redshirt freshman?
As a redshirt freshman in 2014, Daniel Carlson went 18 of 24 on field goal attempts while also serving as the Tigers’ punter. His younger brother won’t have to play both roles, but he’ll still be new to kicking with the pressure of 80,000-plus fans watching him.
A lot of kicking comes down to steady nerves and muscle memory. If the Tigers can keep Anders Carlson protected better than it did last season — three different field goal attempts were blocked — he has the leg to carry on the tradition left by his older brother. He might not be automatic from the start, but there’s plenty of optimism for Auburn’s top specialist.