Takeaways from the Southern Miss spring game

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Jordan Mitchell breaks tackle. Photo by: Brad Crowe

1.Quarterbacks connect with receiving corps

On sophomore quarterback Tate Whatley’s third drive of the game, he led Team Gold down to the red zone, but the team only ended up with three points. However, Whatley had three big completions during the game, two to Neil McLaurin for 35 and 44 yards and a 64-yard completion for the first touchdown of the game to Trevor Terry. On the other side of the field for Team Black redshirt junior quarterback Jack Abraham targeted Jordan Mitchell and Tim Jones a lot, but threw his only touchdown on Saturday to tight end Will Potosky 19 yards. Unofficial stats had Tate Whatley completing 9-of-15 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown, while Jack Abraham went 18-for-27 for 191 yards and one touchdown.

2.Neil McLaurin’s big game

The senior wideout connected with Whatley for two big receptions for Team Gold in the game. After dealing with injuries for part of last season, McLaurin appeared in six games and recorded seven catches for 101 yards and one touchdown. Southern Miss head coach talked about McLaurin’s ability to high point the ball.

“He high-pointed the ball well. Neil was hurt all last year and played through it. Right before the LA Tech game we started to see him healthy again and he had some impact plays,” Hopson said. “We are starting to see him healthy again.”

Whatley also made a statement about McLaurin’s progress in the spring.

“All spring we’ve had a good connection,” Whatley said about McLaurin. “Today he was just making plays and high-pointing the ball and making plays. That’s what he does. He’s a great athlete.”

In a crowded but talented receiving corps this year, McLaurin has the ability to be an impact playmaker through the air for the Golden Eagles.

3. Defense was active on Saturday

The linebackers on both teams were flying around and being active and the defensive fronts attacked the offensive backfields all day. One specific player of note was redshirt sophomore Tahj Sykes for Team Black, who was constantly in Team Gold’s backfield. Swayze Bozeman was also in the backfield for consecutive tackles for losses and sacks during the first half. Tre Davis also had a big impact and as well as other defensive backs that played well on Saturday.  Even though tackles were not officially recorded, it was not hard to see that walk on redshirt sophomore linebacker Zach Portlock had a huge impact for Team Black

3.Tre Davis’ impact on the defensive side of the ball

Davis had two interceptions on the day, he picked Jack Abraham off twice. Davis’ first interception was returned for 27 yards and then his last interception came at the end of the game to seal the victory for Team Gold. Davis also missed the 2018 season after an injury, playing five games as a freshman. He has the potential to make a big impact this year like he did in this year’s spring game.

5.Offensive Coordinator Buster Faulkner on the offensive efforts

First-year offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Buster Faulkner talked about the offensive units and depth heading into the season following the game.

“We want to get on the ball and control the tempo. We want to put our guys in the best position to succeed. The biggest thing is that we don’t have a big drop-off anywhere on the depth chart.” Faulkner said about everyone’s efforts on Saturday, “Today was just one day. I look at these things like a body of work. Over the course of 14 practices or so, some guys that really stepped up today were Jordan Mitchell and Tim Jones. A guy that has really come up is Trevor Terry, and I was really impressed with Neil McLaurin. He high-pointed the ball a few times and we saw a lot of flashes from De’Michael Harris. Steven Anderson showed he can play a valuable role for us. Arvin Fletcher has had a really good 13 days and it will be good to get more guys back in the fold. We have some good depth to work with.”