HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - With a new defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator and head coach, it's been a summer of change for Southern Miss. But it's a change they embrace with new goals, a new attitude and a new season just three weeks away.
"You know everytime you get a new coach, everyone worries about schemes but really you have to have chemistry with your coach," said senior quarterback Nick Mullens. "So to be able to spend time, hang out with Coach Dawson, know who he is, on and off the field, that's been great."
While Mullens has enjoyed learning from new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, first-year head coach Jay Hopson is trying to bring back a particular quality to the Southern Miss defense.
"When you think about Southern Miss, you think about the Nasty Bunch," said defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro. "So that's part of them, that's part of us. And we're definitely going to breed that into them."
Senior defensive lineman Dylan Bradley added, "Be tough, be nasty every week."
"That's not like it's some tradition that I'm bringing to the table," said head coach Jay Hopson. "That's the tradition of Southern Miss football. It always has been about being tough and when I'm long gone and dead, guess what? It's still going to be about being tough."
Hopson encourages his defense to fly around and get to the quarterback. Traditions of tenacity that started when coach Jim Carmody first coined "The Nasty Bunch" in 1982. But Hopson still gives his defense a few parameters, at least in practice.
"Don't touch Nick," Bradley said. "That's everything we preach everyday. Do not touch Nick, cause you touch Nick you're in trouble."
One of those goals coach Hopson has in mind is beating an SEC opponent for the first time in 15 years. Southern Miss will have that opportunity in its season-opener against Kentucky on Sept. 3.