An even battle on both sides of the ball was the theme for the practice session on August 10. The offense made plays, while the defense also held its own.
Senior safety D’Nerius Antoine picked off a pass from senior Nick Mullens during team drills towards the end of practice. After that possession, the defense forced a 4-and-out from the Mullens-led offense.
The offense is setting in nicely with Mullens at the helm. The newcomer on the offense line is senior Wil Freeman, who is a converted defensive lineman taking first-team snaps at the left tackle spot.
Also on the offensive side, the wide receivers for nearly every first-team repetition are senior D.J. Thompson, redshirt junior Tyre’oune Holmes and transfer Allenzae Staggers. Also fighting for position in the rotation are transfer Isaiah Jones and redshirt junior Marquise Ricard.
With Staggers potentially in the starting lineup, Jones is trying to also crack the first-team rotation. Both were teammates last year at East Mississippi Community College and are trying to repeat their past successes together at Southern Miss.
“If he make a big play, I want to make a big play,” Jones said. “We’re always competing.”
Not to be outdone on the practice field, Jones does get reps with the first team offense and is impressed by Mullens’ game and his command of the field.
“He’s one of the best quarterbacks that I’ve ever played with,” Jones said. “It’s always a business with him. He making sure that we’re handling ours.”
Handling business is something that Nick has done very well in his time at Southern Miss. He set both the school records with 4,476 yards and threw for 38 touchdowns.
Staggers knows that he will handle his own combined with Jones taking care of himself as well. He says that their personalities compliment each other and they will keep each other uplifted on the field through their play.
“He’s a fun guy and I just bring all the energy to the table,” Staggers said. “If any one of us catch the ball, we’re going to motivate each other.”
Motivation and handling business will be something that will drive the plays down the stretch as the USM practices roll along before school starts.