HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - As the Golden Eagles talked with reporters during Saturday’s Media Day, their eyes lit up when asked about the team’s goals this season.
It’s clear Southern Miss is on a mission to win its first Conference USA championship since 2011.
Since that time, the conference has crowned six different champions. Speaking more to the parity of the C-USA, seven conference teams were bowl eligible last season.
USM was not invited to a bowl despite finishing the season 6-5. With five games decided by three points or less, the Eagles know how close they were to having a much different season.
"It's huge motivation,” said USM junior defensive back Ky’El Hemby. “It put a fire under me knowing we had the game like this and it slipped away. We pushed ourselves really hard in the offseason and I feel like we don’t have a choice but to win those games this year."
"Fix our mistakes that we made last season and the season before,” said USM junior wide receiver Quez Watkins. “It all comes down to one play or one quarter so we’re just making sure we're detailed in everything we do."
“I think the last three years we’ve had more bowl eligible teams than any conference in the group of five,” said USM head coach Jay Hopson. “Week in and week out, you’re playing a team with a winning record. And of course, this year with our non-conference schedule we actually have four bowl teams. Every week is a challenge, we got to be ready.”