Southern Miss

Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson hires a new offensive coordinator

Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson has settled on a new offensive coordinator.

Buster Faulkner, who held the same position at Arkansas State the last three seasons, has been hired to run the Golden Eagles’ offense, Hopson confirmed to the Sun Herald on Monday. was the first to report the news.

During Faulkner’s time at Arkansas State, head coach Blake Anderson served as the team’s offensive play-caller and quarterbacks coach while Faulkner coached tight ends and carried the title of offensive coordinator.

Faulkner was let go after after the Red Wolves finished 8-5 in 2018 along with two other Arkansas State offensive staff members. Anderson decided to hand over play-calling duties to a new hire, former North Carolina passing game coordinator Kevin Heckendorf.

Prior to joining the Arkansas State staff, Faulkner served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Middle Tennessee from 2012-15 after taking over the team’s play-calling duties midway through the 2012 campaign. He served as offensive coordinator for one season in 2010 at Murray State after working as the quarterbacks coach at Central Arkansas in 2009.

His first opportunity as a full-time coach came in 2007 as the quarterbacks coach at Valdosta State and he was elevated to the role of offensive coordinator at VSU the next season.

During Faulkner’s last season at MTSU, the Blue Raiders averaged 33.8 points and 310.4 yards passing per contest.

Arkansas State put up 30.3 points and 469.1 yards a game during the 2018 campaign.

Faulkner’s main task will be improving a USM rushing attack that averaged just 112.6 yards per contest in 2018. Arkansas State averaged 186 yards a game on the ground last year for a 4.8-yard average per carry. The Eagles averaged just 3.1 yards a carry in 2018.

USM, which finished 6-5 in 2018, is expected to return 10 of the 11 players who started on offense during the regular season finale against UTEP, including rising junior quarterback Jack Abraham.

Faulkner replaces Shannon Dawson, who left USM after the 2018 season to join Dana Holgorsen’s staff at Houston.

Hopson attempted to hire former Baylor head coach Art Briles as his offensive coordinator earlier this month, but was denied the opportunity after USM president Rodney Bennett decided against the move.

Patrick Magee is a sports writer who has covered South Mississippi for much of the last two decades. From Southern Miss to high schools, he stays on top of it all.