With a new coaching staff in place the Golden Eagles set their sights on the championship. The first step down that road is spring practice.
Head Coach Jay Hopson said, “You’ve got to crawl before you can walk. Right now we're just getting in the basics, but their retention is good, they're getting it.”
New offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said communication difficulties are to be expected the first week of practice. “The offense is 90 percent the same, but the communication is a little different. That is my worry about the first practice anywhere is communication, but I thought it was decent,” Dawson said.
Senior quarterback Nick Mullens said, “The new coaches obviously have different coaching styles and that’s something that we have to embrace and buy into. We’re doing a great job of that right now.”
“Coach Hopson lives by 11 brother’s one heartbeat, and we get what we deserve,” Mullens said. “So if we stick to those two mottos moving forward we're going to be a pretty darn good football team.”
Runningback Ito Smith said, “So far everything seems like it will be the same high tempo. It’s pretty easy for the guys; the coaches are adjusting to us.”
The new coaching staff will take the spring practices to evaluate the current players as well as some new incoming talent.
“You got capable bodies out here no doubt, but you know as well as I do that you can't tell on day one. Kids are trying to figure out where to line up and do this and do that,” Dawson said.
A strong senior class is returning for the Golden Eagles, and they will be looked to for leadership.
“I think we’ve got some good senior leadership, those guys are working really hard,” Hopson said.
“I don't think it's really set in to the fullest of me being a senior yet, so I think that every day I have to remember that this is our last, it's our last time to be a Southern Miss Golden Eagle.” Mullens said. “We have a great senior class that really cares is willing to work and is willing to take Southern Miss to new places.
While there are many new faces on the field, the squad from last season has a chip on their shoulder, and they are ready for a fresh start.
“The Western Kentucky game still sits on my shoulders every day, so to be able to come out here and have all of our goals ahead of us once again to be able to get back working towards a mission with some great teammates and some great coaches is what it’s all about,” said Mullens.