HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Saturday's Southern Miss football "Media Day" signified that the 2017 season is just around the corner for the Golden Eagles.
USM also held its second scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday as the team prepares for September 2nd's season-opener against Kentucky. The Eagles beat the Wildcats in Lexington last year to open the Jay Hopson era.
Hopson led Southern Miss to a 7-6 campaign and New Orleans Bowl win in his first season as the head coach.
The veteran coach said things don't feel different in year two. Hopson's philosophy of teaching toughness remains the same.
"I've been coaching 26 years, there's not anything I do any different," Hopson said. "I really don't. I'm the same coach when it's bad and I'm the same coach when it's good. I really don't change my patterns. I think [the team] knows their head coach loves Southern Miss and I think everybody here chose Southern Miss."
"[Hopson] wants us to be tough," said USM senior running back Ito Smith - who led the Eagles with 1,459 yards rushing last season. "He wants us to have a mental edge on whoever we're playing. He tests us in practice, we get tested in our workouts all the time by [strength and conditioning coach SaJason] Finley. That's what coach Hop's brought."
"Nasty," said USM junior linebacker Jeremy Sangster. He wants our team to be nasty, tough. When there is adversity, he wants us to fight through it. That's basically his motto: be tough."