USM coach Jay Hopson discusses spring game
The Southern Miss spring came to a close with no clear No. 1 at quarterback, but redshirt junior Kwadra Griggs may have a slight leg up on sophomore Keon Howard if Saturday's spring game is any indication.
Both quarterbacks accounted for one passing touchdown and one interception.
"They did a good job today," USM head coach Jay Hopson said of his two quarterbacks. "I thought we moved the ball well inside the 20's at times. I thought Keon and Kwadra made some good throws, did some good things. We had a couple of picks, but I think overall they did a pretty good job today."
Griggs completed 15 of 25 passes for 207 yards for the Black squad, consistently hitting receivers down field and throwing well on the run.
Griggs left spring practice a year ago as the No. 2 quarterback behind Nick Mullens, but didn't take the field for the 2016 season after he was ruled academically ineligible.
He had several highlight moments during Saturday's scrimmage.
"I wanted to show that I can lead and really guide the team and take control of the offense," Griggs said. "I think I did a pretty good today, but I can get better as camp comes around."
Griggs and redshirt sophomore receiver Jordan Mitchell connected three times for 87 yards, including a one-handed grab by Mitchell to help set up Griggs' 18-yard touchdown toss to Korey Robertson.
"I just tried to give him a catchable ball and he made a play for me," Griggs said. "I think we've got great receivers."
Howard's Gold squad walked away with the 14-7 victory after redshirt junior Jeremy Sangster returned an interception for a touchdown late in the game after both starting quarterbacks were moved to the bench in the fourth quarter.
Howard finished 12-of-24 for 199 yards after picking up his play in the second half.
Howard's best drive of the game came in the second half when he hooked up with senior receiver Isaiah Jones on a 47-yard completion and followed that up with a 24-yard touchdown toss to Trevor Terry, a redshirt sophomore from Long Beach.
Both of Howard's big completions on the drive came in the middle of the field.
"I think today was really a productive day overall," Howard said.
Senior Ito Smith played well in limited snaps early in the game, breaking off a pair of carries for 22 yards and two catches for for 17 yards.
Redshirt junior running back Tez Parks finished off a strong spring with 10 carries for 54 yards.
"We didn't run much, but Ito got in there for about three plays. That's all you needed to see. You put him on the shelf," Hopson said. "Tez had some good runs."
Redshirt senior George Payne sat out Saturday's scrimmage with an unspecified injury. He was joined on the sideline by redshirt senior tight end Julian Allen, who has a groin injury.
Hopson pointed to senior safety Tarvarius Moore, a second-year transfer from Pearl River Community College, as having a big day on defense. He and Xavier Marion both picked off passes in the secondary.
Several defensive players picked up sacks with the quarterbacks wearing red jerseys. D'Iberville product Jacques Turner, a redshirt freshman defensive end, had a sack in the second quarter.
The defense had a slight edge on Saturday after a mostly even spring between the two groups.
"I think we're just young on offense and we're trying to mesh," Turner said. "We'll be good in the fall."