July 30, 2008

Gran: Special teams must improve

Special teams have always been a priority for Auburn's coaching staff.

And while there were some high points last season including the two game-winning field goals by Wes Byrum and Ryan Shoemaker's 42.4 punting average, good for second in the conference, special teams coach Eddie Gran sees plenty of room for improvement.

The biggest area of emphasis will be on kickoffs where AU finished 11th in the SEC in both kickoff coverage and kick returns.

"It hurt us not having a healthy kicker the full year and we need to cover a lot better," said Gran. "It was pitiful and we have to get a lot better at that."

A now-healthy Byrum, who has the ability to put kickoffs into or even through the endzone, should be a big boost to the coverage unit. Gran says he'll also need to rely on some offensive skill players to step up.

"More than ever this year we have to count on some offensive guys," said Gran. "We need to pull from that receiver corps to take some pressure off a secondary group that doesn't have a lot of depth."

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