Offense and defense battle at weekend scrimmage

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Ty Williams and J.J. Jones perform defensive drills at the Spring scrimmage. Photo by: Brad Crowe

Southern Miss held its second football scrimmage of the 2019 spring training period last Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium. The weather was constantly shifting between light rainfall and sunny skies, similarly to the momentum in the scrimmage, which shifted back and forth between defensive dominance and spurts of offensive brilliance.  With one week remaining before the official Black vs. Gold spring game, there were several glimpses into what is to come in the near future for Southern Miss football.  

One factor that remained constant throughout the day was the intensity and excitement of the players on both offense and defense, which all the coaches and players maintain is the standard for Southern Miss.

“It’s a mentality, man,” redshirt junior lineman Jacques Turner, who is emerging as a leader for the defensive unit, said. “If you come to Southern Miss, you’ve got to have that dog in you. You’ve got to come out with energy and make plays if you want to play here.” 

Turner’s defense did an excellent job of making plays early in the scrimmage. Coming off a phenomenal 2018 campaign in which they ranked third in the nation in defensive efficiency, the unit feels they have a responsibly to keep pushing themselves, not only for their own improvement but to help the offense improve as well.

The defensive secondary forced several turnovers throughout the contest. What was considered an inexperienced, susceptible group just a season ago is now thought to be one of the team’s biggest strengths, led by returning starters Ty Williams and Ky’el Hemby. A few newcomers showed potential as well, such as redshirt junior Taran Lambert and redshirt freshman Nicario Harper. The two combined for three interceptions on the day, indicating the secondary could be rather deep when it comes to play-making ability. 

Redshirt junior linebacker Tyree Evans turned a lot of heads with his performance, continuing to impress both his teammates and coaches with his level of play over the spring.

“That’s a guy who flies when he gets the opportunity to be on the field,” Turner said about Evans. “He has a motor like you’ve never seen, and he just never stops running.” 

Despite the big start by the defense, redshirt junior quarterback Jack Abraham and his backup Tate Whatley were able to string together a few impressive drives, ending with scoring plays for the offense. Abraham and his receiving corps displayed an increased level of comfort working together, as he connected on long throws downfield to veteran receivers Jordan Mitchell, Tim Jones, Jr. and Neil McLaurin.

Abraham says the comfort just came with time and practice. 

“We go out and throw every day after practice,” Abraham said. “It’s great to have that familiarity. We don’t have to come out here and worry about the little things. I know where they’re going to be, and that helps a lot.” 

Several new faces received carries out of the backfield as part of a crowded corps of young running backs.

Trivenskey Mosley showed no signs of giving up the starting position he won over the course of his freshman season, and Steven Anderson seemed to be solidified as the number two option. However, a few newcomers such as redshirt freshman Jordan Kempf and true freshman T.Q. Newsome seemed to indicate that there could be a battle over the summer to decide who will join Mosley and Anderson in their attempt to revitalize the Golden Eagles’ rushing attack after the unit’s struggles in that department a year ago.