HATTIESBURG — “A tough loss.”
“They outplayed us.”
“We got what we deserved.”
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Those were some of the quotes from Monday’s Southern Miss football press conference. All of them were about Saturday’s disappointing 37-31 loss to Troy at M.M. Roberts Stadium, which gave the Golden Eagles a 2-1 record.
The defeat, and all of the comments, could be summed by what USM defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro said: “It ain’t no fun to lose.”
USM head coach Jay Hopson took the blame.
“Put the loss on me,” he said. “It’s always my fault. But I’ll take a loss any day if my team fights hard for 60 minutes.
“Just hoping we get better. We know we want to win.”
There is always a new challenge in football, and this week that challenge is the Golden Eagles’ first Conference USA game, which will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at UTEP.
The Miners are 1-2.
“From here on out, it’s basically a conference schedule,” USM head coach Jay Hopson said.
It will be the first of eight Conference USA games for Southern Miss. The only non-conference game the remainder of the regular season will be Oct. 15 at LSU.
In a hole
Offensive and special teams mistakes led to poor field position for much of the game against Troy.
“Defensively, we were backed up a lot early in the first half,” Hopson said. “We had the snap over the head at the 10, and we had the fumble on the kickoff return. It seems like the second quarter we were backed up. We got it back to 17-10, I think we might have thrown another pick, so it was just like those minus-yardage situations really got to us in the first half. I think 17 of those 24 (points) came where we were on the minus side of the field walking onto the field.
“In the second half, after we tied it up, we had another turnover and got on the minus side of the fuel and they got another. So that’s 20 points off of turnovers. That’s something we’ve certainly got to correct.”
Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said that he told quarterback Nick Mullens after the Troy game, “I’ve got to put you in a better position.”
Mullens responded, “I’ve got to play better.”
Dawson said it wasn’t Mullens’ best game passing (24 of 52 for 263 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions), but that “at times, he tries to do too much.”
Allenzae Staggers led the Southern Miss receiving corps against Troy with six catches for 98 yards and one touchdown.
Eight different receivers caught passes. But Dawson said they dropped eight passes.
Standout defensive tackle Dylan Bradley was hurt a couple of times and had to leave the field against Troy.
“I’m ready to go,” he said Monday.
Back on top
Several Gulf Coast players — left guard Brandon Farmer of Harrison Central, defensive tackle Jerry McCorvey of Vancleave, kickoff specialist Stephen Brauchle of Gulfport and Sam linebacker Elijah Parker, who played at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College — are listed at the top of the depth chart.
Who: Southern Miss vs. UTEP
When: 7 p.m., Saturday
Where: El Paso, Texas
Radio: 104.9 FM