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Jay Hopson Weekly Media Conference

Sept. 5, 2016

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson addressed the media Monday following the team's come-from-behind 44-35 season-opening victory over Kentucky last Saturday.

The squad opens its 2016 home schedule this week when they entertain Savannah State this Saturday in a 6 p.m., contest at Carlisle-Faulkner Field at Roberts Stadium.

Here is what Hopson had to say today:

Opening statement on Kentucky win...
"Certainly good to get a W. I thought our guys competed extremely hard. We've got a big game coming up this week, and we better understand that getting ready for this week."

On one game not defining the season and the emotions and atmosphere after the game...
"It's a long season ahead, but it's always good to get a win, especially against an SEC opponent. We enjoyed it that night. It was a fun night, and certainly as players and coaches we enjoyed it, but we've got to move on now and get ready for the next game. This is the biggest game of the season because it's the next one."

On how to prepare for a team that doesn't have as high of a profile...
"One thing that football has taught me is you better be ready every week. That's something we have to do. As a coaching staff we were up here late last night. We spent just as much time, if not more, preparing for Savannah State. We know we have to be ready."

On what he learned about the team after the comeback...
"I'm just really proud of the guys. I told them, `That was a Golden Eagle effort right there.' You should've seen them at halftime. There was never any doubt in their eyes. You could tell they were committed to playing 60 minutes of hard-nosed, Southern Miss Football. That's what they did. Give those players all the credit. They did it. It was just an impressive performance by those guys."

On if they made halftime adjustments...
"We did. We had some missed assignments early and that's one of the things I told the [players]. You could tell we were playing physical in the first half too. You have missed assignments and a guy runs free and scores a touchdown two or three times, guess what? That scoreboard isn't going to look good. We were playing hard. We played hard for 60 minutes. As a coach, that's what you're proud of. We cleaned it up in the second half and it was a great effort by the players."

On how his players played assignment football...
"If you watched the game, the first half we weren't as good as we needed to be. The second half we certainly played well. I thought, offensively, we executed at a good level. There's always room for improvement defensively, offensively and on special teams. We know we have to get better from week one to week two. That's our charge. We have to do that to be successful."

On if they came away from the game free on injuries and if Draper Riley will be back this week...
"We did. We always got a few bangs and bruises, but we're pretty healthy. It'll be a few more, I think (on Draper)."

On if anything was noticed after he watched the game film, negative and positive...
"You always see little things inside each play, but it was pretty much what I thought at halftime. We went over some of those things that were happening and that's what we got to do this week. We have to correct our mistakes. They say in football that week one to week two is the biggest week for improvement, so we have to do that this week. Lots of positives. Just the way we played is one thing. This isn't a Jay Hopson thing, but at Southern Miss we pride ourselves on being a physical football team. I think that's what these players did. You saw Golden Eagle effort out there. They played physical football."

On the challenges that Savannah State presents...
"They're a multiple team. They give you a lot of different looks. That's something they're going to make us prepare for. As a coach you have to get ready and prepare for a lot of different things. Coming into the second game you're sometimes still dancing into the unknown still a little bit, because the team doesn't empty out everything in the first game. We got to get ready and we know we have to get ready to play. It's the biggest game of the season."

On the emotion in the locker room after the game...
"Excitement. Guys were excited. It's always fun after a win. Can't be more proud of that effort."

On how the Kentucky win ranks against the other wins he's been a part of...
"It's up there. It was a special night for all of us."

On facing one of his former players, Chad Williams, who is now a coordinator for Savannah State...
"I've done it before. It's always fun to watch your former players become not only great coaches, but also great men. Chad was a true Golden Eagle. He was physical, tough and he was scared of nothing. He proved that when he played in The League with the Ravens. He was a great football player here."

What statement does the Kentucky win make...
"We have to understand that it was a great win, but we got a long season ahead. The thing I liked about it was the fight and toughness."

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