If Coach Hop ain’t happy, nobody is happy.
And nobody was happy Monday in the Jim & Thomas Duff Athletic Center at Southern Miss.
“It was a tough loss, a tale of two halves,” Golden Eagles coach Jay Hopson said about Saturday’s 43-28 Conference USA loss to North Texas, a game in which Southern Miss led 21-7 midway through the second quarter.
“The third quarter was our worst quarter of the season.”
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USM offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson told a story that happened in the locker room after Saturday’s disappointing loss.
“Coach Hop makes this comment after the game — and I completely agree with him — ‘There’s blood on everybody’s hands.'” Dawson said.
That included the coaches and players.
“Mine included,” Dawson said. “There’s multiple things I could have done to help. There’s multiple things (quarterback) Kwadra (Griggs) could have done. There’s multiple things (running back) Ito (Smith) could have done. Everybody could look in the mirror and say, ‘Man, if I’d made that play, we probably had a chance to win.' I could definitely look in the mirror and say, ‘You know what? Those couple calls there, I could have done a better job.’”
Smith carried the football 13 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns against North Texas.
But in the second quarter, he was rested in favor of Tez Parks, who had missed several games due to an injury. Parks ran five times for 17 yards while he was in the game.
“(Smith) probably didn’t have as many touches as he needed to have,” Hopson said.
Players of the game
Hopson named Smith the offensive player of the game, Jomez Applewhite the defensive player of the game and WyDale Flott the special teams player of the game.
For the season, Smith has run 73 times for 435 yards and four touchdowns. He is averaging 6.0 yards per carry and 108.8 yards per game.
Applewhite, a 6-foot-1, 181-pound senior rover from Bassfield, made four solo tackles and had five assists and one interception against North Texas.
Flott is a 5-11, 176-pound true freshman defensive back from Saraland, Ala.
Praise for Staggers
Hopson also praised wide receiver Allenzae Staggers, who caught five passes for 112 yards against North Texas. Staggers has now caught a touchdown pass in three straight games and has 14 receptions in those three games.
Almost a safety
Hopson said the game seemed to turn on the USM defensive play in the second quarter when the Eagles thought they had tackled a North Texas runner in the end zone for a safety.
“You can’t ever blame a play,” Hopson said. “But after that play, the last four minutes of the second quarter and the third quarter, I thought that was our worst quarter of the season. It didn’t seem like anything went right from the third quarter to the very end.”
As for whether it should have been called a safety, Hopson chose his words wisely.
“It was real close,” he said. “It was one of those calls it’s kind of touch and go. It’s close.”
This Saturday, Southern Miss (2-2, 0-1) plays its second Conference USA football game at UTSA in San Antonio, Texas. Game time is 6 p.m.
UTSA is 3-0, having beaten Baylor 17-10, Southern 51-17 and Texas State 44-14. UTSA had its season opener against Houston cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey.
Who: Southern Miss vs. UTSA
When: 6 p.m., Saturday
Where: San Antonio
Radio: 104.9 FM