Southern Miss pair finds a connection
Published 6:13 pm Monday, September 3, 2018
In the lead-up to the season opener, Southern Miss quarterback Jack Abraham and wide receiver Quez Watkins put in some extra work after practice.
The two, as well as the Golden Eagles’ other receivers, fine-tuned their timing and worked to build a connection in the passing game. It turned out to be time well spent.
Abraham went 21-of-27 for 242 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s 55-7 win over Jackson State. Watkins caught three of those touchdowns, among his eight receptions for a career-high 138 yards.
It was an impressive first chapter in what the Golden Eagles hope is a season full of games just like this one.
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“Jack and I have been at it since this summer since he got here. We’ve just been throwing routes and stuff and this week we’ve just been staying after practice and making sure that we get extra and making sure that everything is on point,” said Watkins, who also returned a punt for a touchdown. “We’ve just been working on it and it carried over to the game.”
While Abraham was impressive, it was Watkins who provided the highlight-reel plays.
Watkins’ first touchdown came on a slant pattern on the Golden Eagles’ opening drive. He caught the ball at the 18-yard line, broke two tackles at the 13 and another at the goal line as teammate T’Rod Daniels grabbed and threw him into the end zone to complete a 28-yard scoring play.
“He said he felt like he didn’t want me to go down on the one so he just had to pull me in,” Watkins said. “I told him I wasn’t going to go down on the one, I can’t do that.”
The second touchdown, with three minutes left in the first quarter, was spectacular on both ends. Abraham dropped a perfect pass between two defenders in the back right corner of the end zone. Watkins grabbed it and tapped his toes down in bounds for a 22-yard TD pass that put Southern Miss ahead 14-0.
Watkins added a third touchdown on an 81-yard punt return midway through the second quarter, and took a short screen pass 24 yards for his fourth touchdown of the night on the opening possession of the third quarter.
Watkins was named the Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Week and said the punt return was his favorite play of the four.
“I just saw everybody flowing to the left and I knew I had the cutback somewhere and there was a lane and I just hit it,” Watkins said. “It was just, it was fun because everybody is trying to get you.”
Abraham had some nice plays of his own — he dropped a perfect fade pass to Jordan Mitchell into the left corner of the end zone for his other touchdown — but stood out mostly for his efficiency.
He completed 11 of his first 12 passes, including 10 in a row in the first quarter. He did take two sacks, one of them on his first dropback, but did not commit a turnover.
Abraham gave way to backup Marcelo Rodriguez after his final TD pass to Watkins.
“I thought he threw well,” Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said. “It’s never a perfect game, and there were some reads to get better at, but all in all I was pleased with Jack’s play.”
LOUISIANA-MONROE AT SOUTHERN MISS
Saturday, 6 p.m.
Radio: 105.1 FM
TV: None; Online: ESPN3.com