HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Greeks called it hubris, and in the colloquial taken from the King James version of the Good Book, the expression can be paraphrased as "pride goeth before the fall."
Along with a variety of mental mistakes and a lack of execution, it very well may be that overconfidence played a big role in The University of Southern Mississippi's 37-31 loss Saturday to Troy University.
"I don't think we did a very good job handling success, to be honest with you," USM offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said Monday during a weekly news conference. "We won two games, and some people were walking around here like they had things figured out, like this was easy. Well, it's not easy. The reality is we won two games, and now our opponents are only going to get tougher, (Troy) was the best team that we've played yet. You can say what you want to, but that was the best team that we've played yet."
USM (2-1) committed three turnovers, turned the ball over on a bad punt snap and failed to convert a fake punt.
The mistakes contributed directly to 27 of the Trojans' 37 points.
Dawson said he and Head Coach Jay Hopson had warned the players of becoming too satisfied with what they had accomplished.
"I told our guys, and Coach (Jay) Hopson told our guys, for the last two weeks to be careful patting yourself on the back when you win a game because the fall's pretty quick," USM offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "All you have to do is have a very average performance, and we're back to square one. The bottom line is that, absolutely, we can pinpoint things during the week, we can pinpoint glaring things that led up to this. It's just about refocusing now, and handling adversity and success the same way."
Hopson laid the outcome on his shoulders.
"Put the loss on me," Hopson said. "It's always my fault when we lose. But I'll take a loss any day if my team fights hard for 60 minutes."
The Golden Eagles did that, rallying from a 24-10 deficit to tie the game at the start of the second half, and then after again falling behind by 10 points, taking the game to the last play with a chance to win on a first-and-goal from the Trojans' 9-yard line.
"I know this: they're resilient," Hopson said. "This bunch is a fighting bunch."
The Golden Eagles will shift their attention to the beginning of the second season, when they take to the road Saturday for their Conference USA opener against the University of Texas-El Paso (1-2) at 7 p.m. at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX.
"For myself, I'm angry," USM defensive tackle Dylan Bradley said. "I'm upset about how we performed out there on the field as a team. I really want us to go out there and dominate in all phases, special teams, offense and defense, and I know that pretty much everybody on the team feels the same way I feel. I know we talked after the game, and we said we're not going to let that happen again."
Players of the Week
Offense: Running back Ito Smith, who rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns, including a 70-yard touchdown run. He also added 17 yards on three catches.
Defense: Linebacker Elijah Parker , who made six tackles, including four solo stops.
Special teams: Place kicker Parker Shaunfield, who hit a 41-yard field goal and four extra points.
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