By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
The EKU coaching staff was extremely disappointed to have two big punt returns wiped out in a lopsided victory over Austin Peay two weeks ago — especially when game film showed that both penalties were perhaps somewhat questionable.
Still, they were certainly encouraged that the Colonels were able to get to a pair of big returns, even if they didn’t count.
That’s something they haven’t seen in a while.
“It was nice, even though we didn’t get points out of it,” EKU coach Dean Hood said.
Sophomore Stanley Absanon led the charge on special teams. He had four punt returns for 48 yards, highlighted by a season-best 34-yard return in the 38-3 win over the Govs. He also had a 64-yard touchdown return and a 30-plus yard return brought back by a holding penalty.
Absanon is currently second in the OVC in punt return average (12 returns for 82 yards, 6.8 yards a return) and has become a legitimate big-play threat.
That’s something the Colonels haven’t had in a couple of years.
“The good thing is, we’ve got a guy who will go north,” Hood said. “That’s a trust issue most times. But, if you can get a punt returner to trust you and trust his teammates and go north (that’s big).”
The Colonels didn’t have much success on punt returns last season. They had just 13 returns for 56 yards (4.31 yard average), with a long of just 20 yards.
EKU hasn’t had a punt return for a touchdown in three years (Jeremy Caldwell, 2010 against Austin Peay).
Absanon had been very close to breaking several long returns, but didn’t get loose on a big run until two weeks ago. He had three returns for 26 yards, including an 11-yard return, in the season opener against Robert Morris. Over the next four games, he had just five returns for a total of eight yards.
Floyd making an impact
Redshirt freshman Jon Floyd played mostly tight end in high school.
But, he’s making an impact for the Colonels at a different position.
The Richmond native has seen significant action at fullback the past few games. Floyd had a his first collegiate catch against Morehead State (eight yards), then had two catches for 21 yards against Austin Peay. He caught a career-best 17-yard pass from quarterback Jared McClain in the third quarter of the blowout win.
“We tried just about everybody (at fullback),” Hood said. “Then somebody suggested we try (Jon) and I think he has really helped us.”