HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - There was a lot of talk floating around Southern Miss football practice on Friday as the Golden Eagles held their first day of fall camp. However, one word in particular was often repeated – competition.
Fourth-year head coach Jay Hopson expects competition to trickle down to every position group on the team.
Quarterbacks Tate Whatley and Jack Abraham continue to duke it out for the starting job while Hopson says “seven to eight” receivers will battle at wide receiver.
Of course, the offensive line is wide open as USM looks to improve in that area after finishing 13th in the Conference USA with 112.6 rushing yards per game last season.
While Hopson will have his eyes on that group, he’s checking out the defensive line as well with a couple of transfers joining the “Nasty Bunch” this year.
"It's going to be fun to watch them battle it out,” Hopson said. “You want to make sure you're getting the eleven best football players. I think you come out of camp always wanting to do that and when you have competition there's those nights you go home as a football coach and go ‘Is he better or is he better?’ We want to make sure as we go through camp and compete we want to make sure those guys deserve to be those top eleven so that we feel good about who are starting players are in all phases. Football is a game of attrition, so you lose a player or two throughout the year."
Hopson said Southern Miss has 15 more scholarship players than last season and had “close to 85” on Friday.
The Golden Eagles will hold 16 more practices and three scrimmages before game-week begins on August 26. USM opens the 2019 season against Alcorn State on Saturday, August 31 at 6 p.m. in M.M. Roberts Stadium.