Football Continues Week With Spirited Practice
Southern Miss plays Rice to open the 2014 Conference USA slate on Saturday at The Rock.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss football team continued preparation for its 2014 Conference USA opener against defending C-USA Champion Rice with a two and a half our practice at the Joe P. Park Practice Facility.
The Golden Eagle football team, who enter the weekend 2-2 and 2-0 at The Rock, continued to work on improving and doing the little things better.
"It went good today; better than yesterday," head coach Todd Monken said after practice. "The whole key is, did we do it today better than Rice did it? That is really it. You have to do it better at the beginning of the week - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Watching film. Hydrating. Eating. Better than they do it. I thought our guys had a really good Wednesday."
Monken commented on the improvement of his defense, especially his younger players on defense.
This season, true freshmen Picasso Nelson Jr. and Cornell Armstrong have seen significant playing time, while redshirt freshmen Jomez Applewhite and Trae Collins have seen their minutes increase. Applewhite and Nelson have accounted for three of the Golden Eagles' five interceptions so far this season with Applewhite picking two passes and Nelson earning his first collegiate INT against App State.
"I think all four of the young guys - Jomez (Applewhite), Trae (Collins), Cornell (Armstrong) and Picasso (Nelson Jr.) - all love to play and are all highly intelligent when it comes to football," Monken said. "They are always competing and they figure things out faster. They don't need as many reps. We are not where we need to be yet, but we are really excited about those four young guys."
On the defensive line, the youth continues to improve. Redshirt freshmen Draper Riley, Christopher Robinson, Rod Crayton and Xavier Thigpen continue to take big steps. In addition, true sophomore Ja'Boree Poole is making the most of his playing time, notching a sack for eight yards. The younger players continue to improve and challenge for more playing time, allowing the starters to rest.
"It is not a matter of talent," Monken said of his young reserves. "We need more from them. They are going to be good players. We need to be able to take the heat off of Mike (Smith), Das (McCullum), Adam Williams, Rakeem (Nunez-Roches), (Wil) Freeman. Those guys will continue to rotate. I think they've had a good week, but they have to fight like heck to force us to play them."
Game time between the Golden Eagles and Owls is set for 6 p.m., at Carlisle-Faulkner Field at M.M. Roberts Stadium and the game will be televised by Fox College Sports, as well as heard on one of the affiliates of the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network.
In addition, it will be Ray Guy Day at The Rock this Saturday and several different festivities are planned around the game, starting at noon through 2 p.m., with a Guy meet and greet at the Ogletree Alumni House. It is open to all fans (only one autograph item per person, please).
Guy will then ride in Eagle Walk at 4 p.m., and later be recognized in a special halftime presentation during the game against the Owls. In addition, the first 10,000 fans at the game will receive a commemorative poster and wall clings honoring Guy, which is courtesy of BancorpSouth.
Tickets for the game are available by going online at SouthernMissTickets.com, by calling 1-800-844-TICK (8425) or by visiting the Pat Ferlise Ticket Office weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.