Southern Miss

Jay Hopson looking for toughness from Southern Miss in spring drills

PATRICK LOWERY/SOUTHERN MISS ATHLETICS 
 Quarterback Nick Mullens drops back to pass during Friday's second spring practice under new Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson.
PATRICK LOWERY/SOUTHERN MISS ATHLETICS Quarterback Nick Mullens drops back to pass during Friday's second spring practice under new Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson.

Southern Miss first-year coach Jay Hopson said the second day of spring football practice at Joe P. Park Practice Facility went well, but the team needs to keep improving.

"It is going well. For the second-straight day I thought we executed pretty well for a shorts day offensively in the spring," Hopson said in a release. "There weren't a lot of balls on the ground. I thought Nick did a great job with some of his reads. Like anything else, we have to keep polishing it up. I was pretty pleased as there was good retention during the entire practice."

Hopson has been pleased with what he's seen from returning quarterback Nick Mullens, who is coming off of a year in which he completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 4,476 yards and 38 touchdowns.

"He has so much football savvy. He has a high-football IQ -- a great football player," Hopson said. "It's fun when you see a senior quarterback with that type of ability and knowledge. He has looked great the first two days."

Former coach Todd Monken wanted the Golden Eagles to be a physical team. Mullens said he sees similarities between Monken and the new USM head man.

"Coach Hop is that old-school Southern Miss hard-nosed football," he said. "He believes in a unified defense and a unified offense -- and that unifies the team."

Defensively, Hopson said the team is only in the infancy stages of installing their new scheme.

"We are just putting in our base defense and slowly working into putting in some five-man pressures," he said. "It is pretty simple right now."

Like Mullens said, Hopson wants the team to be an imposing, physical presence when it takes the field.

"We are working on executing and doing the little things right now. We certainly want to play hard, as well be fast and physical," Hopson said. "That is the Southern Miss way. We are trying to fine tune things and get our precision better."

Southern Miss will return to the practice field at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

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