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Sep 21, 2018
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  Football Preview: Special Teams

Special teams will see a few new faces when the the Tigers battle Washington Sept. 1 in Atlanta. Field goal kicker Daniel Carlson and leading punt returner Stephen Roberts have both graduated and will need to be replaced.

Auburn was very fortunate to have Carlson, who is arguably the best in school history and one of the best ever in the SEC to play at his position for the last four years. Carlson kept the Tigers in close contests by making clutch field goals when the offense sputtered and didn't allow many returns with his booming kickoffs.

Carlson will definitely be missed, but his younger brother Anders Carlson is ready to take over the field goal kicking duties after being redshirted last year. The younger Carlson, who was the nation's top kicker in the 2017 class, had a solid spring and was named special teams MVP after a perfect 4 for 4 field goals on A-Day with makes from 38, 41, 45 and 53 yards.

The punter situation is still a question that probably won't be answered until the end of fall camp. Walk-on Aidan Marshall took over the job when Ian Shannon struggled early last season. Newcomer Arryn Siposs arrives in the summer and could win the job over Marshall.

Christian Tutt and Ryan Davis will be the lead competitors to replace Roberts at punt returns. Tutt is in the mix for the job following a solid spring while Davis has experience in the role with two returns for 42 yards last season.

Noah Igbinoghene is back as Auburn's top option on kick returns after returning 24 kicks last season for an average of 23.79 yards per return, which ranked sixth in the SEC among return men.

Igbinoghene helped the Tigers beat Ole Miss by returning a kickoff 70-yards to open the second half. He also had a career-long 72-yarder to start the second half against UCF in the Peach Bowl. Igbinoghene finished the bowl game with six returns for 174 yards, which set a Peach Bowl record for most kickoff return yards.

An area that saw Auburn struggle last season was the kick and punt coverage units. They ranked 109th nationally allowing 11.43 yards per punt return and dead last allowing 27.2 yards per kick return last season. They also allowed two touchdowns, one a game-changing 75-yard punt return to DJ Chark in the fourth quarter at LSU. The other a week later when Arkansas' De'Vion Warren returned a kickoff 100-yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter.

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