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AUBURN — At a school like Auburn, where placekickers like Wes Byrum and Daniel Carlson have been as popular as the starting quarterbacks, Australian punter Oscar Chapman has flown under the radar, and he prefers it that way.
“I kick the ball maybe four times in a game, and if one of those is bad, then you know, everyone looks at you. But if I do my job, right, no one really notices,” said Chapman. “Work really hard behind the scenes and just get the job done so that it's not like a light on you.”
Chapman has quietly been one of the top punters in college football this season, and he has gotten better each year of his three-season stint on the Plains. And his head coach knows it too.
“He’s a weapon,” said Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin. “I think he's the best, if not one of the best in the country. He really is.”
During his freshman year, he averaged 41.1 yards per punt on 28 kicks, earning SEC first-year Academic Honor Roll during that season.
His sophomore year, and Bryan Harsin’s first in Auburn, Chapman took a huge step forward, with 57 total punts, averaging 44.1 yards per kick and getting 23 of them inside the 20. This season, he is averaging 44.1 yards once again and looks to get better as the year goes on.
“It goes back to me trying to get good hang time and good distance and putting the ball where coach wants me to and then just gunners and team working real hard on punts,” Chapman said.
He may not have the strongest leg in the country, but Chapman is a technician. His short punt heroics during the Iron Bowl pinned Alabama deep on multiple occasions and nearly won the game for the Tigers. During that game, he was called upon 10 times, averaging 42.7 yards per attempt.
He might get his number called several times this Saturday as Auburn travels to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs and one of the best defenses in the country. Oscar Chapman knows this, and he is once again up for the challenge.
“Going up against another good team. It's always very important to try and pin them real deep, put extra pressure on them and make it easy for our defense to go out and make great plays,” Chapman said.
Chapman’s leg could be the difference depending on which version of the Georgia offense and Stetson Bennett IV show up on Saturday. The 127th playing of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CST on CBS inside Sanford Stadium.
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