HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM)- Southern Miss held its first scrimmage of fall practice on Saturday, and once the team left the field, a somewhat unexpected plot twist emerged. The defense held the upper-hand, while the offense and quarterback Austin Davis slightly staggered behind.
Not to say the offense played poorly. For the simulated scrimmage (all drives started on the 50-yard line), Davis finished with 180 yards passing, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Even so, Davis felt the offense lacked rhythm, and described this scrimmage as the "worst scrimmage I've had since I've been here.
"Offense is all about getting into a rhythm, and we never really found that rhythm. I never really found that rhythm. I don't know if it was the early morning, if I wasn't ready to go, but I got to put that demand on myself."
On the other side of the ball, the defense showed definite progress in transitioning to defensive coordinator Dan Disch's 4-2-5 scheme. Overall, five different Golden Eagles combined for seven tackles for losses, also accumulating a sack, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Consistency was certainly an issue, as the team would string together consecutive plays for loss or no gain, then allow a back-breaking big play. Disch thinks the issue of consistency will be addressed with depth, which his defense lacks as of right now.
"We got to get more guys that can play," said Disch, "because the way this league is with the tempo and the number of plays their going to run at you, you know, you're running 70, 80 plays a game.
"I don't want my starters playing 70, 80. I want them 60 or 50."
Head Coach Larry Fedora felt more satisfaction today than on Friday, when he felt his teamed lacked the mental intensity they showed throughout the first week of camp. "Today they came out with an attitude," said Fedora.
"They came out with a chip on their shoulder. They knew they didn't do what they needed to do yesterday in a full practice, and today they got after it." Maybe so, but Fedora also recognized that there's nothing to be too excited about just yet.
"It was a typical first scrimmage," Fedora called it. "We had too many balls on the ground, we're going to look on the film, and there's going to be some guys that are not going full speed, that don't realize they're not going full speed until a coach points it out, and they all paid for it."
But Fedora also recognized the "good things, individually." Defensive lineman Terrance Pope played very well, contributing two tackles for loss, and on offense, redshirt-freshman Arsenio Favor made his case for back-up quarterback, throwing for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 11 of 20 throwing.
28 yards came on a beauty of a pass that Pope rainbowed to redshirt-sophomore and track star Justin Simms, who Davis says has "unbelievable speed." The pass looked like it would sail long of the 5-7 Simms, but Simms showed that extra burst of speed and let the pass fall right over his helmet into his arms.
Maybe the biggest surprise of the day came from senior receiver Kelvin Bolden, who many expect to be the best in the conference. He caught only one pass for -8 yards.
Redshirt-sophomore running back Kendrick Hardy also rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
The team will practice for one more day on Sunday before getting Monday off.
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