AUBURN — Embattled kicker Wes Byrum might have found a new ally — former Auburn kicker John Vaughn.
Byrum said he has been speaking with Vaughn about his struggles, which Byrum said stems from his plant foot.
Vaughn, a four-year starter, finished as Auburn’s all-time leading scorer. During his time, though, he also had his share of troubles.
“We’ve gone out and just kicked,” Byrum said. “We’ve had days where we will work on it and just work. There’s also days that you gotta go out there and just kick and talk and not be so focused on it and just get some kicking in. So we’ve talked a lot about some different things.”
Byrum has struggled through most of the season, making just 6 of 12 field goals longer than 20-plus yards.
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville announced Sunday that he has reopened the search for a starting kicker. Morgan Hull and punter Clinton Durst are vying for the position now as well as Byrum.
That doesn’t faze the sophomore kicker.
“I think I always do better when there is more competition,” Byrum said.
Tuberville said Tuesday both Byrum and Hull made all their kicks. He also said the starter would be a game-time decision on Saturday.
• SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS: After allowing 455 rushing yards in the past two games, Auburn’s defenders are desperately seeking answers.
“We need to get our swagger back,” defensive end Antonio Coleman said. “There’s only one word that you can use. Just get our swagger back. Hopefully we’ll get that Saturday. We’ve been practicing real good. Hopefully Saturday we’ll come out and handle business.”
That swagger has disappeared after a 25-22 loss to Arkansas and a 34-17 loss to West Virginia.
During those games, Arkansas tailback Michael Smith rushed for 176 yards and WVU tailback Noel Devine rushed for 207 yards.
“I didn’t think I would see that, but they did,” Marks said. “All good things sometimes come to an end, it came to an end too early. It’s something we have to work on and get back to the basics and get back to what we were doing.”
Marks said he still has hope the defense can regain its swagger this week.
“It's something you can get back,” Marks said. “Swagger is the way you approach things. If you know all 11 guys are going to do what they’re supposed to do then you feel like you got it back or you can go out and try to get it back.”
• MEANINGLESS NUMBERS: Knee and ankle injuries haven’t slowed Coleman this season.
He has racked up an SEC-high six sacks and 10 1/2 tackles for loss this year.
Don’t tell that to Coleman, though.
“I don’t care. It means nothing to me,” Coleman said. “I just get out there and try to make as many plays as I can. Like I told you before, that’s null and void to me. Look at our season. We’re 4-4. I couldn’t care if I’m last right now. The stats and all that really has nothing to do with me and what I’m all about. I really don’t care.”
• MIX UP: During Auburn’s first drive against West Virginia last week, the Tigers put together their best drive of the season.
That drive, however, resulted in a field goal instead of a touchdown. Part of the reason was a botched play on third-and-goal from the WVU 1-yard line.
Kodi Burns took a snap, but collided with tailback Mario Fannin in the backfield. Fannin was dropped for a loss and Auburn had to settle for a field goal.
“Just a mixup of the signals,” Fannin said. “I went the wrong way. It was my fault. I thought it was 32 and it was 33. But that’s something we’re working on also.”
— Luke Brietzke