Daniel Carlson coming up big for Auburn 1 kick at a time

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Daniel Carlson knows he'll miss a field goal at some point.

It just hasn't happened in a while for the player who has emerged as the surest bet on Auburn's team, a kicker who supplied all of the Tigers' scoring in a much-needed win over LSU.

Carlson tied an Auburn and Southeastern Conference record with six field goals in that 18-13 victory and hasn't missed in 12 attempts this season, plus his final one last season. That 13-kick streak puts him three marks shy of his own school record 16 in a row set last season. He has been the biggest bright spot on a team that is 2-2 entering Saturday's game with Louisiana-Monroe (1-2) and has drawn an unusual amount of attention for a kicker.

''It's been a lot of fun, but I'm just a part of this team,'' Carlson said. ''I know my role is just to help out this team, and it's a role that I can be the hero or the goat. If I keep making kicks, it goes well. But once I start missing kicks, people are going to question, `Hey, what's he doing?' That's why I enjoy it. There is a lot of pressure, but that makes it exciting. When you do well, that makes it really fun.''

In that case, he's having a blast this season.

A Lou Groza Award finalist as a sophomore last season, Carlson has missed only once in his last 30 attempts. He even ran for a touchdown on a fake field goal against Arkansas State.

Carlson has been especially important to Auburn because the offense has struggled to reach the end zone, and also because the Tigers don't have to get all that close for Carlson to have a good shot at three points.

He has seven career field goals of 50 yards or more, including a 53-yarder this season against Clemson and a 51-yarder in the LSU game. Carlson has missed only once from that range.

''He's a game-changer. He's a weapon,'' Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. ''You've got confidence to let him kick it 50-plus. There's not a whole lot of coaches that have that luxury.''

Carlson's last 17 kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks - and one fumbled attempt to field it by a photographer behind the end zone against LSU that made the rounds on social media.

''Don't try to catch his kicks,'' Malzahn advised.

The coach said he might let Carlson attempt a 60-yarder at some point this season. Carlson said he's made a couple of 70-yarders at home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and in practice at Auburn.

He wound up at Auburn in a roundabout way. His parents attended the University of Alabama and his grandparents live in Trussville, outside Birmingham, and steadfastly root for the Crimson Tide, though Carlson says ''they'll come and cheer for me every once in a while.''

''My dad came over from Sweden. I didn't want to stay in Colorado,'' Carlson said. ''They ended up living in Colorado just because they couldn't figure out whether to live in Europe or Alabama. I grew up watching SEC football. When I got in contact with Auburn and visited, I just fell in love with it.''

If he hadn't, Auburn would be in much worse shape this season.

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AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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