Southern Miss Football Holds Spring Game; Gold Wins 14-7
Defense carries the day, team enjoys growth it made during spring
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The defense came to play in Southern Miss' 2017 Black and Gold Spring Game, leading to a 14-7 victory for the Gold squad on Saturday afternoon inside The Rock.
The two teams were decided by a draft between coaches earlier in the week. Southern Miss also welcomed back former head coaches Jeff Bower and Bobby Collins to take control of the two squads.
It took until the final minutes of the second half for some points on the board, and it came via an eight-yard connection from Kwadra Griggs to Korey Robertson just inside the left pylon.
Keon Howard made quite the impression in back-to-back plays in the third quarter, first finding Isaiah Jones for an easy 47-yard completion and then Trevor Terry in space for a 24-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in which he dodged a few tackles before the endzone.
Gold won the game in the final minute when linebacker Jeremy Sangster picked off a pass at the midfield logo and ran untouched for a score.
There were two other interceptions in the game, one each tossed by starting quarterbacks Howard and Griggs. The first one was a Tarvarius Moore running grab and the second a diving snag from Xavier Marion, just moments after he prevented a long Tez Parks run with a shoelace tackle.
The biggest highlight for the Golden Eagle fans in attendance was Jordan Mitchell's one-handed grab in one-on-one coverage as he ran down the field, resulting in a 42-yard connection from Griggs. Chase Whitehead also had a 41-yard reception as part of a three-catch day.
Four Golden Eagles led the way with three catches apiece in Mitchell (87 yards), Jones (80), Whitehead (58) and Allenzae Staggers (62). Keon Howard's passing line was 12-for-24 and 199 yards, while Griggs was 15-for-25 for 207.
Aside from the three interceptions, other strong defensive plays included Walden Davis stepping in to blow up a screen attempt early in the game and Rachuan Mitchell breaking up a pass in the corner of the endzone in his solo coverage.
Head Coach Jay Hopson
On the QB play this afternoon:
“They did good today. I think we moved the ball well inside the 20s at times and I thought Keon and Kwadra both made some good throws, a couple picks, but overall I think they did a good job.”
On whose performance jumped out to him today:
“I thought Tarvarius Moore played a good game today, just from the naked eye and not watching a single snap on film. He really did some good things. We didn’t run Ito much, but when you saw him get in there, three plays, you saw all you need to see and we put him on the shelf. Tez [Parks] had some good runs and of course Jeremy had the big play at the end, which was nice to see. There are other guys that played well, but if there is one guy who stuck out most was probably Tarvarius."
On what he wants his QBs to improve on this summer:
“I think quarterback is such a complicated position. You just want to be able to run the offense efficiently and effectively. Our guys had a good spring and they’re continuing to grow, so I’ve been really pleased with their progress.”
On the progress of the offensive line:
“The Spring Game is always tough for the offensive line because you’re mismatched. The ones don’t work together as a unit. That’s a group that needs to work together as a unit. I’ve really been pleased with their progress this spring. Some young guys like Arvin Fletcher and Drake Dorbeck had a good spring camp and of course Devin Farrior is back. We’ve got guys backing up that are giving us good depth too.”
Linebacker Jeremy Sangster
On the LBs progression this spring:
“Coach [Tony] Pecoraro did an awesome job with the linebackers this spring. We learned a lot, technique wise and getting the play book down. We have a solid linebacker core. Everyone is faster, bigger, everyone knows their plays and everyone is doing what they’re supposed to.”
On the defensive working together this spring:
“Everyone knows what they’re doing even though we’ve got players that are hurt.”
On the emphasis of forcing turnovers this spring:
“The coaches said if we don’t get three turnovers that it’s gonna be gassers. So ever since practice started we’ve been getting over three turnovers every practice. You saw us out here today, we got like five turnovers, so that played a big part.”
Quarterback Kwadra Griggs
On Jordan Mitchell's one-handed catch
"I just tried to give him a catchable ball and be made a play for me. We have some great receivers and I think he's the only one that could do that. He made a good play and will continue to get better with his progress as well."
On how he felt the spring game went for him in the long run
"I believed I showed I can lead and gather the team and take control of the offense. I think I did a good job at that today but I can get better at it as camp comes around. I did a lot of film with my coaches and went through progressions and reads. When they roll, just knowing where to go to with the ball and not to force anything. I felt I could do a lot better. I do think I did well, and my offense came and got me as a whole. We are just trying to finish strong and together."
Wide receiver Jordan Mitchell
On his one-handed catch and return to the field
"Just trying to make a play. I had a really good DB so you have to come with it everytime, and I just happened to make a play. It definitely felt good after sitting out last year and having to work out every day. It's good to get out and run routes with my teammates and compete."
On Kwadra Griggs' performance
"He definitely did a good job. Any mistake he had, he shrugged it off and moved to the next play. That's what coaches tell us to do, to look to the next play and execute."
On the movement of the offense
"I felt like we have to be able to move fast. We are getting the game plan down, so it's a matter of getting to the line and running as many plays as possible at a consistent and high-quality pace. We definitely did well today, and we could put anyone in on any given down and make a play."
On what he looks to accomplish before fall camp
"Really just getting stronger and in shape. Just studying film and taking advantage of any opportunity."