EAST LANSING, Mich. -- When the opportunity for a big game presented itself, Michigan State's Kelly Quinn rose to the occasion in resounding fashion with seven solo tackles and two quarterback sacks.
The junior defensive end's field day against hapless Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., Saturday won him the game ball from his team as well as honors from UPI Monday as the Midwest Defensive Player of the Week.
With standout quarterback Sandy Schwab sidelined by disciplinary action, the Wildcats were totally smothered by Michigan State's defense.
Northwestern, while losing 9-3, had a minus 50 yards on the ground and only six first downs.
Quinn's contribution was significant. Three of his seven tackles resulted in losses totaling 49 yards.
The 6-foot-2-inch native of Stone Mountain, Ga., makes no bones about the fact that 2-7 Northwestern was not top-notch competition.
'Due to an inexperienced offensive line ... with Northwestern, I knew this was an opportunity to have an excellent game,' he says. 'I took advantage of it.'
The 218-pound lineman says he beat the freshman with the unenviable assignment of blocking him and, when another freshmen was sent in, beat the replacement as well.
'When you get 'em down, you have to jump on top of them,' he says.
Backup quarterback Steve Burton also presented an easier target than Schwab, he admits.
'Schwab is a great athlete,' he says. 'He can run. He's quick. He can throw the ball extremely well. He gets rid of the ball fast.
'The quarterback they put in, he did some things well (but is) slower. He didn't get rid of the ball fast enough. He gave me a chance to run him down and knock down some passes.'
Quinn, who averages about seven or eight total tackles per game, says the Northwestern effort was 'definitely my best day.'
Although 4-4-1 Michigan State has been somewhat uninspiring this year, Quinn insists the season has not been a disappointment. Under head coach George Perles, he says, the Spartans have taken the season one game at a time.
Quinn is studying communications and intends to get his degree, but he concedes that 'the dream of every college athlete is to become a pro.
'The life of a professional football player -- there's nothing like it,' he said.