CARBONDALE — Jack Colquhoun, a junior punter from Australia, kicked it five times in SIU's 44-26 loss at No. 12/13 Southeast Missouri State Thursday. Colquhoun (pronounced Ka-hoon) averaged 40.4 yards per punt. Not bad for his first game of American football.
"I thought he did a good job with a couple of the rugbys. He did good," SIU coach Nick Hill said Monday at his weekly press conference. "That's the first time he's ever even seen a football game, let alone played in one. For his first action, getting out there, I know he had an awesome time. His energy on the sideline, his attitude, he's a great teammate and locked in to everything. He truly loves being on this team and I'm happy for him to get this opportunity."
The former rugby kicker from Melbourne was a forward for an Australian rules team last year at Bond University. His 11 goals in a game set a school record, but last August he began training with Prokick Australia to learn how to punt in this game. The former basketball, golf and water polo player can boom it, drop it like a typical rugby kicker, or snap it off on the run. One of his punts on the run went toward the right sideline, and bounced right up before SEMO's return man fielded it.
SIU's punt return squad was able to swallow him up within seconds.
Colquhoun's variety was one reason the Salukis (0-1) rolled with him instead of veteran punter Andrew Anckle, who was just as consistent during training camp and used to kick at South Dakota. Colquhoun's inexperience came back to bite the Salukis late in the first half, however, when his line-drive kick beat his coverage. SEMO's Al Young caught it near his own 33 and returned it to the SIU 31 yard line, setting up the go-ahead score at Houck Field in Cape Girardeau.
You have free articles remaining.
"He crushed a couple and they look good in the air, but whenever you give a return guy that much room, it's hard to cover those kicks," Hill said. "We have to keep it 40 and four — 40 yards and four seconds of hang time and make them fair catch it. We want fair catches."
SEMO (1-0) returned two punts for 37 yards and returned two kickoffs for a total of 34 yards. SIU had one 4 yard punt return by D.J. Davis and five kickoff returns for 111 yards by Je'Quan Burton, a preseason all-conference return specialist.
UMass (0-1), SIU's opponent Saturday, features one of the Minutemen's best kickoff returners in school history. Senior cornerback Isaiah Rodgers, who picked off two of UMass' three interceptions and broke up two more passes, returned four kickoffs for 155 yards in a 48-21 loss at Rutgers. Rodgers entered the season with 1,043 career kickoff return yards, 345 from tying the school record of 1,388. Rodgers averaged 22.7 yards per kickoff return last season.
• Notree injured: Starting middle linebacker Bryce Notree could miss 4-8 weeks with a broken foot, Hill said, after the junior stepped on a teammate's foot during pregame warmups at SEMO. Notree was able to play some against the Redhawks, but came out after he and the athletic training staff realized something wasn't right. Hill said the team would know more about the extent of Notree's injury Tuesday.
Notree was SIU's leading tackler last year with 78 stops. An honorable mention all-conference pick as a sophomore, he started all 11 games last year. Bryson Strong, a third-year sophomore from Belleville Althoff High School, is expected to start in his place against UMass.