Quinn McDonough Picks Up The Block, Adds to Dynamic Skill Set
- Updated: August 28, 2013
NORTH ANDOVER — One of the best running backs in Massachusetts his senior season at Malden Catholic, Merrimack senior Quinn McDonough had people doing the blocking for him.
But in a spread, pass-happy offense at Merrimack, McDonough has added the art to his already impressive repertoire as he preps for what will likely be taking over starting job in the backfield this fall.
In Merrimack’s scheme, a good blocking running back is a necessity. The Warriors led the Northeast-10 in passing last season, including an 81-attempt game for quarterback Joe Clancy.
But learning the proper techniques wasn’t easy.
McDonough lined up at practice as a freshman in 2010 with the task of blocking a charging bull — current Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shawn Loiseau — and learned pretty quickly it was a necessary part of playing at Merrimack.
“I knew pretty quickly it was something I was going to have to work on,” said the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder. “I have always been confident with the ball but blocking was definitely something I needed to get better at and I’m really thankful to the coaches here who have done a great job working with me to get better. For me (blocking) was the biggest transition.”
His improvements in that area have been striking.
“With Quinn, the question was never what he could do with the ball,” said Merrimack head coach Dan Curran, “from the second he got here he was one of the best guys on the team with the football. With him it was about picking up those little things, especially getting a guy on the blitz, and if you look at where he started as a freshman to where he is now, it’s incredible. We needed him to become a complete football player, not just a running back, and he had done that; I’m very proud of him for the way he’s worked. He was up here all summer with a group of guys getting ready for this year and it’s really paid off for him.
“Quinn was probably a better runner than (last year’s starter) Jimon (Hill), but Jimon was a more complete player. I think playing behind him the last few years has helped Quinn, I think he used that as an example because he has now become that complete player. We need our running backs to be able to block, catch balls and obviously carry it.”
Working on blocking blitzers was helped by blocking arguably one of the best-ever blitzing linebackers in Division 2 in Loiseau during practice.
“You look at that guy coming at you and you better be ready,” McDonough said. “But having to go up against a guy like that in practice and all of our linebackers, it’s really helped me get better.”
He continued, “I learned a lot about just how to block. It’s not about just being the biggest, strongest guy. So much of it is taking on good angles and getting the most leverage.”
Loiseau made the first cut at Colts camp earlier this week and was a roaming beast for the Warriors through 2011.
“He always went full speed,” said Curran. “We needed to tell him to calm it down in practice because he was just 100 percent all the time, but I think that’s helped guys around him get better.”
Last season for the Warriors, he rushed for 438 yards on 78 carries, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. The Medford native also led the team with eight rushing touchdowns and averaged 18.9 yards per kick return, while catching 23 passes out of the backfield for 164 yards.
“As a runner he has always broken some big runs,” Curran said. “Along with blocking another area he’s really improved with is getting the most out of each carry. He has been able to turn those two or three-yard carries into five-yard carries.”
Now the projected starter, an increased workload will be nothing new for McDonough to handle. As a senior at Malden Catholic in 2009, McDonough rushed for 1,210 yards as a senior scoring 23 touchdowns, which led all Division 1 players.
“He has all the tools you want to see in a running back,” Curran said. “He’s a big body but he has really good speed, and that’s underrated a lot of times with him. If he gets into the open field, no one is going to catch him.”
Merrimack Football: By the Numbers
Last Year’s Record: 6-4 (4-4 NE-10)
Key Returners: Joe Clancy, Sr. QB (323-510, 3,945, 31TD); Quinn McDonough, Sr. RB (78-448yds, 8TD); Zach Ingalls, Jr. WR (37-461yds 3TD); Matt Trippicchio, Sr. DL (57 tackles, 18TFL, 5.5 sacks)
Head Coach: Dan Curran (1st Season)