BY JEREMY HOECK
VERMILLION — Paul Anderson has found his role.
He wants to be the guy to end a long drought for the University of South Dakota football team.
The redshirt freshman from West Park, Florida, has emerged as a special teams threat after his performance in last Saturday’s win at UC Davis. Anderson averaged 36 yards on two kickoff returns, with his 47-yard return the longest for a Coyote since 2012.
The next step, Anderson said this week, is to take one back all the way. And that hasn’t happened much for USD at the Division I level.
In fact, no Coyote has ever returned a kickoff or a punt for a touchdown against D-I opponent. The last kickoff return for a score? Jeremy Blount in 2008, and that was against North Greenville, a Division II program. The last punt return for a touchdown? Stefan Logan in 2006, against Minnesota-Duluth.
During a short Q&A after Tuesday’s practice, Anderson answered a couple questions about USD’s special teams improvement and his role in those efforts.
In special teams, what was working at UC Davis and what seems to be working so far this season?
Great blocking. It’s just timing up the catch and following the blockers, and they help you lead the way.
Did you feel like special teams last week played a big role in the outcome?
Last year, we didn’t have the guys as much as we wanted to do. This year, it’s been a lot different, we worked harder over the summer, coach Williams taught us a lot of new techniques and how to block and how to run the ball. It’s just been different, because coaches have changed, the system has improved.
So, it’s nice to have some new weapons and faces in on special teams?
It’s great, we have a lot of athletes who can move around and do a lot, and the great thing is, they give a great effort. That leads to successful plays.
Personally, how nice is it to have that role in special teams?
I’ve been waiting a long time for this opportunity, and my time has come. Now I just have to step up and lead the special teams how I can, hopefully take it back to the house. That’s my goal this year.
Do you think it’s only a matter of time?
Yes, it will happen. That’s all confidence right there (laughs)