Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson liked talking Monday about the Golden Eagles’ effort in Saturday’s 24-10 loss to Tennessee at Knoxville, Tenn.
“They played physical,” Hopson said. “We gave ourselves a chance at the end. It was a solid defensive effort and I’m proud of our offense in the fourth quarter. We leave the gave with a lot of positives.”
And Hopson didn’t mind talking about the quarterback situation in the ongoing competition between Keon Howard, who started the Tennessee game, and Kwadra Griggs, who ended it.
“Kwadra got the cast off (his left hand) yesterday,” he said. “He’s back and 100 percent healthy. He did a good job running the team.”
Hopson said there would still be quarterback competition each week, but Griggs “will probably be our starter this week. He didn’t lose the job when he was injured.”
Hopson said one problem Griggs had was receiving the snap from center with a cast on his hand.
But the Southern Miss’ second-year head coach still didn’t want to say much about the penalty predicament against the Vols — USM was hit for 14 infractions for 120 yards.
“We’ll address that tonight and get better,” Hopson said.
Tennessee was flagged only three times for 29 yards.
“No comment,” Hopson said after giving it a little thought.
USM (5-4 overall, 3-2 Conference USA) has committed 69 penalties this season for 623 yards while its opponents have been penalized 44 times for 380 yards.
Players of the Week
The Southern Miss coaching staff selected Kelsey Douglas, who has started every game this season at nickel back, as the defensive player of the week as he made four solo and two assisted tackles against Tennessee.
Wide receiver Korey Robertson, who had eight catches for 122 yards against Tennessee and has 51 receptions for 702 yards and seven touchdowns for the season, was named the offensive player of the week.
Redshirt freshman punter Zac Everett, who had eight punts for a 45.6-yard average, was named the special teams player of the week. He had five of his punts downed inside the Tennessee 20-yard line.
The Golden Eagles managed only 279 yards of offense against the Vols. It was their lowest offensive output of the season. The previous low was the previous week against Alabama-Birmingham, when they had 347 yards of offense.
This week, Southern Miss will return to Conference USA action when it plays at Rice (1-8, 1-4) in Houston at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The game will be web streamed by Stadium on Facebook. Dan Hellie will do the play-by-play, A.J. Hawk will be the analyst and Shae Pepper will be the sideline reporter.
After Rice, Southern Miss will host Charlotte at 2 p.m. Nov. 18 and play at Marshall at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 25.
Conference USA has guaranteed commitments with six bowls for the 2017 season, along with one secondary agreement.
North Texas, UAB, Florida Atlantic, FIU and Marshall each have six wins.
Southern Miss, UTSA and Western Kentucky each have five wins.
Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee each have four wins.