In The Huddle With ... Defensive Ends Coach/Special Teams And Recruiting Coordinator Tom Quinn

Oct. 15, 2004

This is the eighth installment of a weekly column that takes you inside the minds of Stanford's assistant football coaches. Each week we will converse with an assistant coach to provide an inside look at a particular area of the team. This week we sit down with Tom Quinn, who is responsible for the team's defensive ends, as well as serving as the special teams coordinator and the recruiting coordinator.

by Janelle Kwietkauski

JK: Can you talk a little about the starting outside linebackers (which is similar to the defensive end position in Stanford's 3-4 defense) and the key backups at the position?

TQ: Jared Newberry starts at one outside linebacker position and Jon Alston starts at the other. They both have great speed and great explosion. They have great minds for the game. Jared Newberry is probably the hardest worker on the team because he puts the time in year-round. Jon Alston is a 4.4 guy, which is usually secondary speed. Timi Wusu backs up Jon Alston. He and Udeme Udofia did a good job against Washington when Alston had to leave. Emmanuel Awofadeju backs up Newberry, and he's a redshirt freshman who is really special.

JK: What are your expectations of the defensive ends and how do you feel about their performance so far this season?

TQ: We expect to be the best position group on the team. The guys have worked hard to accomplish that. We've had a good year to this point. Sometimes our eye discipline has been disappointing as far as reading our keys.

JK: What are the strengths of the defensive ends as a group?

TQ: The strength is our speed. That is one thing that will set us apart. We went to a 3-4 defense to put more speed on the field, and I think we have accomplished that.

JK: Can you talk about being the special teams coordinator and key players like Michael Sgroi and Jay Ottovegio?

TQ: It's fun to be a special teams coordinator, because I get to address the whole team. I coach a lot of players that I wouldn't normally coach in my position. That's one of the rewarding things. Every play in special teams is critical because the ball is exchanging, and it affects field position. It's a fun part of the game to coach. Michael Sgroi is our kicker, and he's 6 of 9 right now on field goals. He started out tough (with three straight misses) but since then he's really come on and been consistent for us (with six consecutive field goals made). (Punter) Jay Ottovegio is a redshirt freshman. He's grown into the position. He had a tough week last week, but he's rebounded well. He dropped a snap but then had a 58-yard punt right after that in a hostile environment. I think he will have a good career here. Mike Silva, Michael Okwo, and Timi Wusu have all done a tremendous job playing on special teams. We put a lot of our best players on special teams. T.J. Rushing is our kick returner. Oshiomogho Atogwe and Brandon Harrison are two more starters that play on special teams. Coach Teevens really puts a big emphasis on having our best players playing on special teams.

JK: What are your expectations of the special teams and how do you feel about their performance so far this season?

TQ: We want to be the best special teams unit in the Pac-10. That's something we strive for every week. We started out pretty well by scoring and blocking kicks. We are looking for consistency. Our big thing is that we want to have a big part in the field positioning each week as far as setting it up for our defense and offense. Our focus is on executing our assignments. We want to get the big play, but we're looking to manage the field position.

JK: What are the strengths of the special teams?

TQ: The strength is that we put our best players out there on special teams, and they've really bought into playing on special teams. The players have done a nice job. They've played real hard and played real fast.

JK: You also serve as the recruiting coordinator. Can you talk a little about your recruiting duties?

TQ: I oversee the whole recruiting operation. I make sure everything works well from the identifying of the prospects, evaluating them, and recruiting them. It's a big job. I have tremendous help from (associate director of football operations and recruiting) Matt Doyle and all the coaches. Coach Teevens is really involved with recruiting. He loves calling recruits, and he's very active in the process.

JK: You played linebacker at the Arizona during your college playing days and participated in three bowl games. How has this experience helped you as a coach?

TQ: Since I was a child, I always wanted to coach. When I was a player, I was more of a student of the game than just having great physical abilities. I was around a lot of great coaches, and they really trained me well. I had great coaches at Arizona, so that helped me a lot.

JK: You coached at Davidson College, James Madison University, Boston University, Holy Cross and San Jose State before coming to Stanford in 2002. What has this experience been like and how has it helped you as a coach?

TQ: I had to start on the bottom. Davidson was a Division III football school. I worked my way up through Division I-AA. It's given me the ability to have a lot of experience at a very young age and grow as a coach. It helped me become organized and disciplined on what I need to do as a coach. It's made me work hard to work up through the process of becoming a coach.

JK: You and your wife had a baby last week. Can you talk a little about this event?

TQ: My wife, Alison, was three weeks early when she delivered Logan Quinn last Tuesday morning. She is our second child. Our first child is Shane, and he's two years old right now. It's been an adjustment at home for all of us, but it's been great. Alison and Logan are both doing well. It's really special.

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