HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Trailing Kentucky 14-3 with 30 seconds left before halftime, Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson sent quarterback Kwadra Griggs into the game.
What the junior quarterback did in that half-minute wouldn't be significant but what Griggs accomplished in the second half helped USM fight back in a hard-fought 24-17 loss to Kentucky.
"At halftime or right before half, we decided to put Kwadra in and let him roll," Hopson said. "Both [Griggs and Keon Howard] did some positive things so we'll just continue to grow and get better there."
"I get butterflies before every game," Griggs said. "I've been playing football since I was seven years old so I still get those butterflies. Once you get that first hit, I'm good. The big thing about this game is confidence. God blessed me with the ability to play football, the sport I love. I'm going to do whatever I can to help this team win."
Once his number was called Saturday, Kwadra Griggs made the most of his opportunity. Griggs completed 15 of 26 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, losing one fumble.
"I think I moved the ball well but I left a lot of plays on the field," Griggs said. "I think we had multiple opportunites to win that game [Saturday]. I hate that I left multiple plays on the field but it's football, it happens."
"Coming in from the second half not playing at all in the first half, him just getting out there and stepping up and making plays when he needed to I think he played well," said USM junior Korey Robertson. "Of course there's things we can work on and he can work on but I think he did a good job."
Robertson caught a career-high seven balls for 111 yards Saturday, including a 42-yard and 26-yard touchdown from Griggs.
Maybe it's no surprise Griggs to Robertson was a common connection since the two Greenwood High School grads have been playing football together for quite some time.
"Korey's a playmaker," Griggs said. "He's a big receiver, got a big body and incredible hands. I ain't never seen one person tackle Korey. We've been playing together since I was seven years old. Never seen one man tackle him one on one, never."
"Since we played pee-wee league, middle school and high school together so it felt pretty good," Robertson said. "Honestly, get to the end zone. When I catch the ball, that's the only thing I'm thinking about, the end zone."
Freshman Quez Watkins joined Robertson in eclipsing 100 yards receiving against Kentucky. While USM's 1,000-yard receiver from last season Allenzae Staggers went without a catch on Saturday, coach Hopson is encouraged by the number of playmakers wearing black and gold.
"I think there's a lot of playmakers on the football field," Hopson said. "We've got two young quarterbacks that are good players and they did some good things out here [Saturday]. They're just going to get better and better and better. That's just the reality of it. We've just got to keep chopping wood."