Redshirt junior Kwadra Griggs has tightened his grasp on the starting quarterback job at Southern Miss.
Head coach Jay Hopson still wants to see a competition between Griggs and sophomore Keon Howard, but the removal of the “or” between Griggs and Howard on the Week 3 depth chart gives a strong indication that Griggs has given himself some cushion as the starter.
“It’s an ongoing battle, but through Week 1 he earned it. Through Week 2, he did a good job,” Hopson said. “He’ll get the start this week (at Louisiana-Monroe).
“Keon came in and made a nice throw to Jaylond (Adams) and did good on a couple of his series. We’ll start off with Kwadra and go from there.”
USM offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson seemed more committed to Griggs as the starter in Monday’s press conference when asked if he had earned the right to be the starter going forward.
“He has, absolutely,” Dawson said. “With what he did in the second half (of the Kentucky game) and the (Southern) game, I thought he played well. Nobody plays perfect. There are obviously some things we have to clean up. He is definitely the guy moving forward.”
Griggs completed 15 of 23 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 45-0 win over Southern. Since taking over in the second half of the Kentucky game, he has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 431 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. The only down side is that he has lost two fumbles.
Dawson said he was impressed with some of the throws that Griggs made Saturday.
“The structure of the (Southern) defense was a little different,” he said. “He made a lot of different throws Saturday. We knew they were softer on the corners. We were taking advantage of stuff that was outward cutting. We had a different attack plan.”
Griggs didn’t start the opener after injuring a finger on his throwing hand during fall camp, keeping him out of four practices. Hopson said Monday that the injury is no longer an issue even though he continues to wear a glove on his throwing hand.
“To me, it was just a minor thing. He’s fine,” Hopson said. “He can throw it through a wall right now so we’re not really worried about that. I thought he threw some great passes so we just kind of protect him, didn’t want him to get injured. He proved he’s ready to roll.”
USM travels to ULM for a 6 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.
Redshirt junior running back Tez Parks was held out for the second consecutive game Saturday with an unspecified injury and Hopson isn’t sure when he’ll have a chance to take the field.
“We’re going to watch him week to week,” Hopson said. “That’s something we’re constantly evaluating every week. He will be back. When? It’s just going to be how he feels. I don’t really have the due date.”
USM made changes on its offensive line Saturday following the injury of left tackle Drake Dorbeck in the season opener.
Redshirt senior Jerry Harris got the start at left tackle Saturday while Jimmie Terry and Tyler Stutzman rotated at left guard.
“I thought it panned out well,” Dawson said. “If you ask (offensive line coach Erik Losey), our missed assignments went down which probably had to do with a pretty simple game plan. Moving guys around, keeping things pretty simple was good. I do think those guys settled in. If you look at even the second wave of people who came in, I thought they played well too. The right guard deal with (Stutzman) and Jimmie played out well. Both of those guys graded out high.”
Who: Southern Miss vs. La.-Monroe
When: 6 p.m., Saturday
Where: Monroe, Louisiana
Radio: 104.9 FM