After the spring game, the Golden Eagles will stay competitive despite losing some key players.
The offense looks sound with the most impressive group at the wide receiver position, where anyone can make big plays. The starting quarterback position is yet to be determined and may come down to who can run the offense most efficiently. With Ito Smith leading the way and Tez Parks having a larger role, the running backs will remain dominant. Defensively, the team concentrated on forcing more turnovers, forcing five in the intrasquad action. The defense will be stable with a strong line and the secondary showing improvement.
The final score from the Southern Miss spring game (Gold 14, Black 7) only showed that the defense will be coming into this year with a little more ferocity than last year.
The Southern Miss defense will have plenty of new faces but will provide more cohesion and balance, in my opinion.
Last year, the linebacker corps was the weak point in the defense. But this year, there can be no definitive weak link on paper. Newly-promoted players Racheem Boothe, Delmond Landry and Tarvarius Moore are a few names to watch for in the coming season.
Quarterbacks Kwadra Griggs and Keon Howard took some big steps forward in terms of progression and field awareness. Griggs showed a strong arm and pinpoint accuracy throughout the scrimmage while Howard started slow but finished looking more impressive than his counterpart.
The defenses showed closing speed in the backfield with some impressive displays in shutting down the run. Tarvarius Moore had a spectacular second quarter.
The Golden Eagles will need to lessen the penalties and take advantage of their speed in the secondary. The Eagles started slowly as a team but finished with some impressive drives.
The question of who will replace Nick Mullens at quarterback has risen.
Both Keon Howard and Kwadra Griggs performances showed both have the ability to move the ball downfield and have a developed concept of the offense. While both need to work on their timing with the wide receiver corps this year, a summer together could iron out the wrinkles.
While that may have been the biggest factor, junior running back Ito Smith did not play much, but his offensive line did not have the greatest performance. The question that still remains for me is whether this young offensive line can create the holes for the speedy back – or will he have to become a do-it-all type of running back this upcoming season?