Southern Miss

A difficult year for a Southern Miss quarterback got much tougher

Southern Miss quarterback Kwadra Griggs sat out the spring while he recovered from surgery and was suspended for the first two weeks of the season.
Southern Miss quarterback Kwadra Griggs sat out the spring while he recovered from surgery and was suspended for the first two weeks of the season. Sun Herald file

A tough year for Southern Miss quarterback Kwadra Griggs got much more difficult this past weekend.

Griggs’ mother died Saturday morning prior to the team’s road game at North Texas, USM head coach Jay Hopson said on Monday during his weekly press conference.

“Kwadra has been through a lot,” Hopson said. “His mother passed away Saturday morning. That’s tough on a young man.”

Hopson said that Griggs found out at about 9 a.m. on Saturday that his mother had died. The game kicked off at 1:30 p.m.

Hopson didn’t give much detail on how she died, but acknowledged that she had been in the hospital.

Griggs entered Saturday’s 30-7 loss at North Texas late in the third quarter and was on the field for three plays before starter Jack Abraham replaced him on the next possession.

“I’ve been praying for him,” Hopson said. “He’s a young man who went in there and competed hard. Jack is our starting quarterback as of today and of that game, but we felt like it was an opportunity for him to play. It was a tough week, a tough day. It was double tough for Kwadra.

“Kids have to battle through a lot of things. Again, it’s been a tough road for him. I wanted to see if he could give us a spark when he got in there. It wasn’t a matter that we thought Jack wasn’t playing well.”

Griggs was suspended indefinitely in early August by the university due to a “student conduct matter” and reinstated after missing two games this season.

The Greenwood native has made brief appearances in the last two contests with Abraham solidifying his status as the team’s starting quarterback.

USM offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said Monday that it’s been tough to watch Griggs endure a great deal over the last two months.

“The only thing I can tell Kwadra is that I love him,” Dawson said. “I can’t sit there and tell him I know what you’re going through. I don’t think anyone can. I can’t fathom the situations he’s been in. It’s been tough for anybody, especially him. You have to ask when is enough enough for any human being. It’s about as deep and as uncommon a situation as I’ve ever seen. The only thing I can do is hug him and love him.”

Griggs started six games last year for the Golden Eagles, helping lead the team to an 8-5 mark.

USM (2-3, 1-1) is set to host UTSA at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Running struggles

Hopson and Dawson were both in agreement Monday that the team has to find a way to run the ball better on offense.

Through five games, the Golden Eagles are averaging 110.8 rushing yards a contest to rank last in Conference USA.

Hopson was asked Monday how he rated his offensive line so far, but he shied away from criticizing that group for the lack of production in the ground game.

“One thing we have to do, and it’s a team effort — I’m really careful in picking out a group or a guy — but one thing we have to do better is establish the run,” Hopson said. “That’s something we’ve been able to do the previous two years. We’ve got to do that and everybody has a piece of that action. We have to make sure we do a good job of giving ourselves a chance and an opportunity to run the football better. That’s something we’re going to concentrate heavily on (moving forward). In football you’ve always got to take what the defense gives you, but at times we’re not executing and taking what they’re giving us, so we have got to do a better job there.”

Hopson said that he considers freshman Trivenskey Mosley and redshirt senior Tez Parks as both to be starters at running back.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee.