For many Southern Miss fans, the amount of turnover for this year’s team has spurred more questions after last season and has even caused worry for fans.
Yes, there were a lot of question marks entering fall camp.
‘Another quarterback battle?’ ‘Who will start in the secondary?’ ‘What are they going to do without Ito?’
The fact is, this team is very talented and in my opinion has and will be overlooked by several teams in the West. In all honesty, I, and several other sports writers, have been dreading having to write about another quarterback battle for the second year in a row. But that cleared up fast as Keon Howard transferred to Tulane to avoid a crowded quarterback room and, ironically enough, is now part of a filled quarterback room at Tulane. Howard will sit out a year due to transfer rules, but he may be a part of a three-way battle in 2019 along with Jonathan Banks, who mind you was pretty solid for the Green Wave as a starter in 2017, and Justin McMillan, a new LSU quarterback transfer. Nonetheless, it helped develop a clearer picture for a crowded quarterback room at Southern Miss.
At least, that was the case until there was the unforeseen indefinite suspension of Kwadra Griggs, which was announced on Media Day for Southern Miss. What Griggs was suspended for is currently speculation, but I will say one thing: the coaching staff was caught off-guard just as much as everyone else was.
To settle any other concerns, Jack Abraham is a fine and solid choice at quarterback. He can make the throws, has a young talented corps of receivers, has at least four different running backs that could start anywhere else in C-USA as long as they stay healthy and probably one of the most underrated offensive lines in the conference. So I think they’ll be fine.
The defense will feature several new starters after losing eight guys and defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro, who is now with Florida Atlantic. Although that was a bit of a blow, Southern Miss promoted within, making Tim Billings the new defensive coordinator and Derek Nicholson the co-defensive coordinator, which means there was enough stability with the staff that there should be no cause for concern. The scheme will hardly change, which makes any adjustments simple.
Like the offense, the defense has a load of unproven talent, but Southern Miss has a great defensive line and deeper depth at linebacker than expected. As fast as Cornell Armstrong and Tarvarius Moore were in the secondary, Ty Williams and Ky’el Hemby are definitely the duo to fill their former roles.
This team could go in two directions the way I and most people see it: be an average 6-6 bowl team or win close to nine games and land a spot in the C-USA championship game. In either scenario, I don’t think fans will be disappointed, as they will be a competitive team.
Now that I have hopefully shed some light or answered those questions, I have one question of my own. Simply put, ‘Why is the first week of school the same time as the first week of college football?!”
Unlike most years, students, new and returning, have had one or two weeks to get settled in on campus before the start of college football. For many sports fans, including myself, the opening weekend of college football is close to being a national holiday, with much excitement surrounding the occasion. However, with budget cuts, academic reorganization and a change in the academic calendar occurring at Southern Miss, the first week of college football is just three days into the new school year.
Experiencing college game day as a student, with the madness that erupts on campus can be overwhelming. For many lost freshman trying to adjust, a position I, myself, was in two years ago when I first stepped on campus, it’s a daunting experience. The opening game against Jackson State is sold out, which only feeds into the mayhem that can be college gameday.
For out-of-state students like myself, it can be even more of an intimidating experience. Meeting new people and adjusting to a new environment mixes only more ingredients in the blender that is game day. Finally, add the last-minute equation of parents coming up on an already complicated campus, and you have really set yourself up for a long exhausting day.
Now as intimidating and confusing as I have described a first game day experience, which oddly enough is also a strong resemblance to the first few weeks of freshman year (or at least mine), it’s still a fun experience.
So some friendly advice to college freshman: Pace yourself on game day. It’s a marathon, not a sprint; have a contingency for whenever your parents do decide to come up for college game day and, lastly, keep coming to games. Attendance was a bit of an issue last year, and Southern Miss has a chance to make the C-USA championship game because of an easy home schedule, so help give them that advantage.
Also, some advice to school officials: How about starting school a week earlier so that I can enjoy my labor day and college football day a little bit more and at the same time end the semester earlier? Thanks.