This past Saturday, the Golden Eagles completed their first scrimmage of the spring.
Only three weeks into spring football, the coaches got their first glance at the team’s potency on offense and defense. The scrimmage prove valuable for coaches seeing their players perform at game speed and in late game situation. Saturday’s scrimmage also showcased how comfortably Southern Miss is functioning as a unit under its new staff.
“Execution went well,” said quarterback Nick Mullens after the scrimmage. “Communication is one thing we can improve on from today.”
Communication has been a concern among the Southern Miss players since the beginning of camp. While Mullens takes responsibility “for the lack of transition from play-to-play and communicating signals right,” the new up-tempo offensive scheme that offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson brings with him may be a factor as well. As time builds and players adapt more to the new offense, communication issues should work their way out.
Coach Jay Hopson did not have too much disappointment with the team’s effort or response to the new atmosphere this week.
“I felt we had a pretty normal scrimmage,” Hopson said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “I thought we were pretty physical out here today and that is always a good start.”
Despite communication issues on the offensive side of the ball Saturday, they proved to have the upper hand in the contest. Mullens threw for two touchdowns to D.J. Thompson and Marquise Ricard. The Golden Eagles also collected four rushing touchdowns on the day.
From the looks of Saturday, the defense looked a little out of sorts and not cohesive as a unit. The Golden Eagles shined in the two-minute drills, but that was about it. Junior Tarvarius Moore recorded an interception, and the defense as a whole garnered six sacks on the day.
Recurring situations where a player would line up on the wrong side of the ball, or shift to the wrong side caused frustration between players and coaches, putting an uneasy vibe of discomfort among the squad. One concern during the scrimmage was how comfortable the Golden Eagles felt with the new changes.
Players accepting what the new coaches are doing seem to be no problem for the Golden Eagles on Tuesday.
“We all love that black and gold,” Hopson said about the comfort level between new coaches and players. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Besides the minimal issues that will eventually work themselves out, the players have been very open to the new, experienced staff.
Since the beginning of camp, defensive tackle Dylan Bradley already believed and trusted the work of new defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro.
“He’s bringing that Southern Miss tradition back,” Bradley said. “Play anybody, anytime, anywhere.”
Mullens is another player who has been on board since day one.
“Different coaching styles are something you have [to] embrace and buy into, and we are doing a great job of that,” Mullens said.
Mullens and Bradley being stars on both sides of the ball and already seeing a great
outcome for Southern Miss puts the minds of fans at ease. The two will be seniors in the fall and by the mature manner of which they accept the new coaching styles, fans can count on the patience of both players being contagious as spring moves along.