Daniel Carlson booms another field goal for Auburn
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Coach Gus Malzahn feels pretty good about scoring when Auburn starts heading to the goal line, thanks to his big-leg kicker who can blast field goals from near and far.
Daniel Carlson has rewarded Malzahn's faith in him throughout the season, and the kicker was recognized nationally Tuesday as one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to college football's top place-kicker.
Carlson's credentials are impressive: He's the only kicker in the nation with four field goals of at least 51 yards and he's made his last 14 field goal attempts overall, including two 52-yarders.
"He has a high success rate. He's done a great job," Malzahn said. "If you look at the kickoffs, too, he has to be one of the best place-kickers in college football. I think at the end of the year, everybody will see him up for all of those awards and I think that will be very warranted."
Carlson has hit 20 of 23 field goal attempts this season, tied for the second most made field goals in a season in Auburn history. He's also hit all 35 of his extra point tries. He's Auburn's leading scorer.
Forty-three of his 59 kickoffs have been touchbacks.
Carlson said he rededicated himself after missing a field goal in last year's Outback Bowl.
"Coming from the way last year ended I had a lot of motivation to improve," Carlson said. "It definitely re-enforced my desire to get better. It's nice to see it pay off so quickly. I want to keep doing that and helping my team all I can."
Carlson was also Auburn's primary punter last season, but he handed off those duties to Kevin Phillips this year. Carlson, Phillips and Auburn all benefitted.
"I've been really able to focus on my field goals and kickoffs," Carlson said. "My leg is fresher. It's nice to focus on what I came here originally to do."
Joining Carlson as a Lou Groza finalists are Jake Elliott of Memphis and Ka'imi Fairbairn of UCLA.
The Lou Groza winner will be announced on Dec. 7, at the Groza Award banquet in West Palm Beach, Fla. The three finalists will also appear on the Home Depot 25th Anniversary College Football Awards on ESPN on Dec. 10 in Atlanta.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine