HATTIESBURG — Southern Miss coach Todd Monken touched on a wide variety of topics during Saturday's media day, but the one subject that keeps everybody talking is the quarterback battle.
There's a long way to go, but Monken described the three men in search of the job - redshirt junior Cole Weeks, redshirt sophomore Ricky Lloyd and senior transfer Allan Bridgford.
"Allan is behind just because he wasn't here up til a couple of weeks ago, but I thought he's really picked it up well. He's a smart guy," Monken said. "Ricky has really come on, but he's still not there yet from a mental standpoint. Cole wants it so bad he can't even see straight. He's a feisty competitor. He's going to make it hard for those guys to beat him out, which he should."
Bridgford transferred from California a couple of weeks ago, and has to earn the job in less than a month.
Does Monken think a month is long enough for Bridford to learn the offense?
"It has to be," he said. "We'll find out. If he's the most talented guy, we've got to do every thing we can to get him up to speed, give us the best chance to win. Of course, you still don't know. You go in the game, think you know. He still hasn't lined up (for USM). He lined up for Cal and did it, but he'd have to do it here. No matter who it is, they haven't done it very often. We don't have a guy on our roster who has done it very often. We have a lot of guys like that. So what? So do a lot of teams.
It's obvious Monken wants to find the quarterback who is the smartest and the most mentally tough.
"We put the pressure on them in practice," he said. "That's what we try to do every day. You've got to make it where you're after them, it's hard. If they can ignore us getting after them every day, then they've got to be able to ignore when fans are screaming at them, to move on to the next play. That's what absence of fear is. I'm not going to wallow in your screaming at me or the fans screaming at me, because I'm going to come back and stick it right up your rear and go make a big-time play.
"I bet Brett Favre had that. How many picks did that son of a gun throw, and how many times did he come back and throw a touchdown pass? That's what you want, an absence of fear."