Saturday, November 5, 2016
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- Southern has seen it all this season when it comes to teams trying to take return man extraordinaire Willie Quinn out of the game.
There have been rugby punts and sky kicks — kickoffs that usually land between the 20 and 30-yard lines. Sometimes they don’t even bother to try something creative and just kick it out of bounds, even if that means incurring a penalty and giving Southern great field position — anything to keep the ball out of the hands of the guy with 10 career return touchdowns.
Lately, Southern has been combating that with its own chess moves, putting Quinn in better position to field short kicks. Last week, it paid off with a 67-yard punt return that set up a short field.
“When you have a special player like that, you try to find a way so he can touch the football,” Southern coach Dawson Odums said. “It’s tough to keep it away from him, because we spend a large amount of time on understanding what they’re doing, what they’re trying to do, so we can put him in position.”
It has paid off. Southern’s average starting field position in the past two games has been its own 41- and 37-yard line.