Maybe the opponent wasn’t top-notch, but Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson said that Saturday’s 56-0 victory over Savannah State made his team better.
A number of second- and third-team Southern Miss players got into the game because of the score, which was 49-0 at halftime.
Hopson said several were impressive.
“There were guys we needed to play,” he said. “The more guys you can play early, it’s going to help you down the road because we all know we’re going to need some guys down the road.
“Offensively, it was good to get (running back) Tez (Parks) in there and get him some carries. He’s going to get more and more carries. It was good to watch (quarterback) Parker (Adamson) come in and play, we needed to see that. On the offensive line, I was really pleased with Tyler (Stutzman), and Oliver (Bates) was our offensive player of the week.”
Parks, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound sophomore from LaGrange, Ga., ran 17 times and gained 68 yards against Savannah State. Last season, Parks did not play due to an injury. As a freshman, he rushed for 156 yards.
Adamson, a 6-4, 214-pound junior from Oxford, completed 5 of 9 passes for 30 yards and one touchdown against Savannah State. Before Saturday, Adamson had only played in one game, and that was two years ago as a freshman.
Stutzman is a 6-4, 275-pound junior from Smithdale (and Southwest Mississippi Community College). Bates is a 6-2, 295-pound senior who splits time at left guard with Brandon Farmer, a senior from Harrison Central.
“Defensively, we played Demarrio Smith,” Hopson said. “He’s going to have to help us up front this year. It was good to get Demarrio in there because Jerry (McCorvey) didn’t play Saturday (due to an injury).
Smith (6-2, 264) is a freshman from Canton. Hopson said he thinks McCorvey, a senior defensive lineman from Vancleave, will be able to play in USM’s 6 p.m. Saturday home game against Troy.
“On the back end (of the defense), Curtis Mikell got a lot of snaps,” Hopson said. “It was good to get Curtis, Tavarius Moore, getting some of those guys in and letting those guys play, because those guys are going to have to play as the season goes on.”
Mikell (5-8, 170) is a junior defensive back from Bassfield and Moore (6-2, 190) is a junior defensive back from Quitman (and Pearl River Community College).
A USM first
Hopson is the first Southern Miss football coach to win his first two games since Reed Green won his first three in 1937.
But Hopson always says a season is like a marathon
“Football is like a poker game,” he said. “We’ll count those chips at the end. The cards are still being dealt. So we can’t sit back and look at where we are, we’ve just got to prepare for Troy. That’s all that matters right now, the Troy game. That’s enough on our plate right now.”
Southern Miss committed one turnover in the Savannah State game, an interception on the Golden Eagles’ first possession.
USM offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said the turnover was not completely quarterback Nick Mullens’ fault.
“Obviously, Nick’s got to get the ball over the guy, get it to (running back) Ito (Smith),” Dawson said. “But if you really look at the play, we had a receiver who could have got open on that play and he did a very poor job of getting the release, a very poor job of running the route, and so the ball had to go to Ito because of that. If you really want to get down to it, if the guy does a better job, then it’s probably a 75-yard touchdown.
“But that’s part of being focused at the beginning of the game, doing the little things right all week, so I thought our focus there was poor. Ultimately, it’s Nick’s fault, but other people could have done a better job, too.”
Dawson, like Hopson, praised offensive lineman Bates.
“Watch the tape, sometimes he’s blocking 30-40 yards downfield,” Dawson said, “even at the end of the game. The kid loves to play football.”
Who: Troy at Southern Miss
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
TV: beIN Sports