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Auburn football names to know: Special teams

Punt Bama Punt, The Kick Six and whatever you call Gus Malzahn lining up a punter in the offensive formation to bait Alabama into an illegal participation penalty that iced the game in 2019 are all examples of special teams having huge impacts in big games. This often-overlooked phase of football reliably delivers moments of outsized importance. Few things swing the momentum of a game like a kick return for a touchdown, a blocked punt or a recovered onside kick.

Quality special teams play is critical for a team to have sustained success across a season. In 2020, Auburn returns several familiar faces and has brought in new names from around the world to bolster this vital unit.

Today we look at the most productive returning player, a talented newcomer, and a wildcard from the special teams. The contributions of these will play an important part in Auburn’s success for the 2020 campaign.

Most Productive Returning Player – Anders Carlson, 26, Jr.
Key 2019 Stats – 18/25 Field Goals, 48/49 PATs, longest made field goal- 52 yds

Anders Carlson continues the line of strong-legged kickers on the Plains. He also continues the tradition of Carlsons kicking for the Tigers. To this point in Anders’ career, he has been unable to replicate the success that his brother Daniel had as an Auburn Tiger. In fairness to Anders, that is going to be difficult because Daniel Carlson is one of the best kickers in program history.

The younger Carlson is absolutely talented in his own right and has already shined in some big moments. However, Anders has had one of the lower field goal percentages in the SEC in both of his seasons as Auburn’s starting kicker. Like every other kicker, Carlson has missed a few. But unlike many other kickers around college football, he has converted multiple attempts beyond 50 yards and had a clutch 4/4 performance against Alabama in the 2019 Iron Bowl.

Carlson did improve from his freshman to sophomore season and there’s no reason to doubt that trend will continue into his junior campaign. There will definitely be spots in 2020 where the Tigers will need Anders Carlson to come up big, and if he does, then that will greatly improve Auburn’s probability of a championship-level season.

Talented Newcomer – Oscar Chapman, Fr.
Key 2019 stats – N/A

Auburn has once again looked to Australia to fill the punter position on the roster. Last season’s punter, Arryn Siposs, left Auburn early to pursue the NFL. Siposs’ departure left Auburn with a vacancy that was not readily able to be filled. So, the Tigers found another athlete from the ProKick Australia Program to continent hop his way to the SEC.

Oscar Chapman made it to Auburn in the middle of August, so he still must get acclimated to a new place and a new game. There are noticeably no 2019 season stats for Oscar because the next time he punts, kicks or tackles in a football game will be the first time he does any of those things in pads. There really is no way to know exactly what the Tigers are getting with Chapman, but based on his performance at ProKick, the coaching staff felt like he could make the special teams a better unit this season.

Wildcard – Aidan Marshall, 41, Jr.
Key 2019 Stats – N/A

Aidan Marshall has been Auburn’s starting punter before. In 2017, he took over the starting job in the fifth game of the season. He held that position for the remainder of the year and was the starting punter for the 2018 season opener. However, in September of the 2018 season, Marshall left the team. He remained a student at Auburn and has now returned to the football program after being away for most of 2018 and all of 2019.

When Siposs left the program with a year of eligibility remaining, that left an opening for someone to punt for Auburn in 2020. Aidan Marshall has done that job before and clearly saw an opportunity to win the punter’s position again. Marshall had some good moments as a punter earlier in his career, including SEC Freshman of the Week for special teams against Texas A&M in 2017. Due to Marshall’s experience, he could prove to be very valuable to Auburn’s special teams this season even if he turns out to be a reserve player.

For other Auburn positional breakdowns:

Auburn football names to know: Offensive line

Auburn football names to know: Running backs

Auburn football names to know: Defensive backs

Auburn football names to know: Linebackers

Auburn football names to know: Defensive line

Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @z_m_shaw