HATTIESBURG, MS - "I'll take all responsibility, I'm the head coach," said Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson. "Our players are fighting. They're working hard. There is nothing but fight on this Southern Miss football team and I'm proud of that. Certainly, we want to win ball games."
Lately, wins have been hard to come by for the Golden Eagles as they've lost four out of five games.
The most recent coming in a 51-35 loss to Old Dominion on Saturday. Despite freshman quarterback Keon Howard committing five turnovers in his USM debut, the Golden Eagles are confident with Howard going forward as senior quarterback Nick Mullens remains day to day.
"The one great thing about being on the sideline throughout my whole career is you can look people in the eye and you can kind of look down into their soul a little bit," said Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. "I've been around a lot of players. I look in their eye and I'm like, 'We're done.' With [Howard], his confidence was shook zero out of all of them. I can live with that. I ain't got no issue with that."
Certainly, Howard isn't the only Golden Eagle to have coughed up the ball this season. But even for the team that ranks dead last in the FBS in turnover margin, it's almost unfathomable that Southern Miss started Saturday's game with three straight turnovers.
"It probably comes down to just I'm living wrong," Dawson joked. "Karma's got me by the you know what. I just need to start living right and we'll start making better plays."
USM has a chance to right the ship with two games remaining, beginning with a road trip to North Texas this weekend. Although a Conference USA championship is off the table, the Golden Eagles aren't ready to put a steak in their season just yet.
"We still got a chance to go to a bowl game," Howard said. "This game right here, this week is a big week for us. Just to continue to play strong, to fight the fight. Adversity is going to hit us, continue to perservere through the adversity."
"We're going to battle out," Hopson said. "I know that about our spirit and Southern Miss. We're going to battle out man and that's what this is all about."