Another assistant coach leaves USM as Dawson heads for Houston

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Pictured: Shannon Dawson By: Brad Crowe

Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is the latest assistant coach that has departed from the Southern Miss’ football program.

The move was announced on the University of Houston’s football Twitter account Friday night, as Dawson has been hired as the Cougars’ new offensive assistant coach. Newly hired Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen and Dawson previously coached together at the University of West Virginia from 2011 to 2014.

Under Dawson’s leadership in 2018, the offense averaged 24.9 points per game, had the 39th best passing offense in the NCAA and was ranked 103rd in third-down conversion percentage.

Now, Southern Miss will have to find a new offensive coordinator and potentially a new quarterbacks coach, as Dawson also coached the quarterbacks in his time at Southern Miss. Despite having various vacancies, the next offensive coordinator would coach a position area, but nonetheless, there may be a new face at quarterbacks coach next season.

Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson does have options to replace Dawson within his current coaching staff.

Wide receivers coach Scottie Walden has made an impact with the wide receivers group and served as head coach at Division III East Texas Baptist in 2016. Prior to that, he served as ETBU’s offensive coordinator. In 2016, he led the program to a 7-3 record and led the nation in scoring at 49.9 points per game, was second in total offense with 564.3 yards per game and sixth in passing at 365.3 yards per game.

Another option could be running backs coach Les Koenning. Koenning served as offensive coordinator for Alabama in 2001-2002, Texas A&M from 2003-2007, South Alabama in 2008, Mississippi State from 2009-2013 and most recently served as UAB’s offensive coordinator from 2016-2017.

The last time Hopson promoted from within his staff for a coordinator position, it was highly successful. His first defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro left to be Florida Atlantic’s defensive coordinator. Hopson promoted current defensive coordinator Tim Billings, who had previously served as the outside linebackers’ coach.

Billings guided a defense that had a significant amount of turnover personnel-wise to being ranked as the third-best total defense in the NCAA, according to NCAA.com. The defense allowed just 275.2 yards per game and held teams to 19.8 points per game.

There are also two other vacancies of note on the coaching staff currently. Hopson parted ways with offensive line coach Erik Losey and strength and conditioning coach SaJason Finley on Jan. 3. During the 2018 season, the offensive line allowed 31 sacks and Southern Miss finished 120th out of 129 teams in rushing yards, averaging 112.6 yards per game.

The coaching vacancies will be filled prior to the start of spring practice.