Southern had to scramble to find a kicker for Saturday’s scrimmage.
Greg Pittman is out six to eight weeks after having knee surgery Wednesday and Matt Hill is sidelined by a hip injury. The Jaguars started searching for a replacement after Pittman was hurt a week ago.
“I prayed,” coach Dawson Odums said.
Special teams coordinator Marty Biagi started “scouring the country” and even went international, calling Australia to try and track down a kicker.
“There’s never a shortage of kickers. You’ve just got to find the right one,” Biagi said. “That means someone who’s coachable, eligible and stayed in shape.”
Biagi found such a kicker at Colorado State, where Cal Yonke was a student but not a member of the football team. Biagi called him Tuesday, Yonke arrived Thursday night and enrolled at Southern on Friday.
He made his Jaguars debut in Saturday’s scrimmage, working with a new snapper and holder. He made 9-of-10 field goals, including all of his live kicks. His only miss was wide left from 43 yards.
“I’ll take that,” Biagi said. “I think he’ll be ready while we wait for these guys to come back, then we’ll see if there’s a competition or he’s taken the job.”
“We got lucky,” Odums said.
Playing it safe
Pittman was one of nearly 20 players who were spectators for the scrimmage. He leaned on crutches and sported a brace on his surgically repaired right knee, which he already has started rehabilitating.
Odums said most of those players were held out of the scrimmage as a precaution to avoid any serious injuries. The starting left side of the offensive line was out. Tackle Reginald Redding is recuperating from a blow to the head, and guard Zach Brown had offseason shoulder surgery.
If Saturday had been a game day, Brown would have played but Redding probably wouldn’t have, Odums said.
Quinn, Menard work with 1s
Starting receivers Willie Quinn and Randall Menard got their most significant first-team reps after missing much of camp because of injury.
Quinn scored the first touchdown of the scrimmage on a 14-yard pass from Deonte Shorts.
Flags under control
Quinn’s 28-yard run was nullified by a blocking-in-the-back penalty, but there were few flags thrown by the officiating crew. That pleased Odums after he watched the New Orleans Saints-Tennessee Titans preseason game Friday night in which the Saints were penalized 22 times for 184 yards and the Titans 10 times for 111 yards.
“I didn’t see a lot of handkerchiefs (in the scrimmage),” Odums said. “I watched that game last night and I was like, ‘Gracious.’ I can understand why the coaches were upset.
It’s just discipline. You know the snap count as an offensive lineman so why are you jumping?”
The Jaguars won’t practice for the next two days. They’ll meet and review film of the scrimmage Sunday, then begin classes Monday.
They return to the practice field Tuesday for four straight practice days before a game-like dry run Saturday. Their game-week routine kicks in Aug. 25.