This year, the football field features a plethora of new faces on the coaching staff, who all bring different personalities with them. From the offensive side of the ball to special teams, you can see different coaches following the lead of head coach Jay Hopson. There are not many concerns about what these new coaches have to bring to the table, as all of them have backgrounds including collegiate and pro experience.
The minimal concern now in these early spring days is when will first-year offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson be satisfied with the Golden Eagles’ progress as a team.
“The biggest deal is communication,” Dawson said. “Even though the offense is 90 percent the same, the communication is a little different.”
Dawson comes into this offensive coordinator job after one year at Kentucky and after stops at West Virginia, Stephen F. Austin and Millsaps College. Dawson has a reputation for building some of the nation’s most prolific offenses. While at Stephen F. Austin, Dawson came into the program after a winless season and in one year, Dawson’s coaching put the Lumberjacks passing yardage at third nationally.
Statistics like these follow Dawson with the numerous programs he has been a part of. Dawson’s arrival at Southern Miss deems to bring great outcomes for the Golden Eagles football team, but his comments in the last few practices seem to show he is not satisfied just yet.
“Football is played with pads on,” Dawson said after the first spring practice. “If you ask me what I’m waiting on as far as evaluation, you got to put pads on and play real football.”
Just three days into spring practice, no one can really infer what Southern Miss has in store for the 2016 season. But, you can get a sense of the coaches satisfaction as the time builds. In the early stages of spring, Hopson does not seem to be too worried with much and seems to be slightly impressed with some aspects.
“It’s always the good, bad and the ugly on the first day of practice,” Hopson said after the first spring practice on March 22. “It’s always corrections you need to make but I feel as if our players came out and competed hard.”
Hopson’s understanding of the fact it is early in the spring, but that peace of mind does not have the same effect on Dawson.
“It’s very hard to evaluate anything when is not true football.” Dawson said after the first day of spring ball, where the Golden Eagles merely had on a helmet and shorts. “We haven’t played true football. Communication is the only thing you can really take away from these practices, and we lacked in that a little today.”
I can agree with Dawson that much cannot be proven when you aren’t playing “true” football. But other aspects of the game can be taken away from days like these leading up to the first day the Golden Eagles play in pads. Being a new coach, you would think getting to see some of the talent working in the football environment would be a positive to look forward to.
While Dawson is not too optimistic about not being in pads, much did not change when the Golden Eagles finally strapped on the pads for the first time on Mar. 29.
“I thought today was ‘blah,’” Dawson said in the first day in pads this past Tuesday. “We’re playing slow, our body language is bad, we’re getting lined up slow and [etc].”
Tough practices occur and are ones every coach knows will happen. When dealing with such a productive coach like Dawson, he will not downgrade what he expects. Average will not do and is not acceptable with Dawson with what he shows in his comments.
Who knows when that productive practice will come around to satisfy Dawson, but as of now, not much is standing out to him.
With the success he carries on his shoulder, Dawson will be a tough one to satisfy but the Golden Eagles have a long spring to show coach what it really means to wear the black and gold.