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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Football

Marcus Jones, a key component in the return game


 

For the second consecutive week, senior Marcus Jones took a punt the distance, going 73 yards to the house in UH's win over Navy. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

For the second consecutive week, senior Marcus Jones took a punt the distance, going 73 yards to the house in UH’s win over Navy. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

Every time Marcus Jones takes the field to receive the punt, his teammates expect him to take it to the house — and for good reason.

“You see (Jones) back there and it’s like give him some space, he’s a green bean,” said junior linebacker Derek Parish. “ I love watching him play. I love it.”

The UH punt return team knows that if they simply execute their blocks, there is a high likelihood that Jones will blow by defenders and be standing in the end zone moments later.

“I just trust my blockers, trust my teammates,” Jones said. “Usually, they’ll be like all we got to do is just hold them off a little while cause they love seeing me return and I love them blocking from. Basically, I just trust in my teammates and whenever I see a seam I just hit it.”

The senior cornerback and newly turned receiver has been one of the country’s top return men, leading the FBS in total punt return yards and average yards per return.

And 2021 has been more of the same.

After taking a punt 48 yards to the house against Grambling for his first return touchdown of the season, Jones had another trick up his sleeve in UH’s win over Navy on Saturday night.

Late in the first quarter, the 5-foot-8-inch return specialist found a seam in between a sea of Navy defenders and was off to the races. 73 yards later, Jones was celebrating with his teammates in the endzone.

“Whenever I make the first couple guys (miss) and I hit a seam or see a crease and then I see something outside then that’s whenever I feel like I can take it the distance,” Jones said after the game.

Jones’ ability to make an impact on special teams has been huge for the Cougars, providing the spark needed to ignite the rest of the team.

UH head coach Dana Holgorsen, who has coached some of the country’s top returners like Tavon Austin during his time in college football, says Jones is on another level compared to those guys.

Jones never ceases to amaze his head coach with what he can do as a punt returner and doesn’t know what UH would do without No. 8. 

“(Jones) is a heck of a player,” Holgorsen said. “That punt return stuff is something I’ve never seen. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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