Keeping Score

Defense rules the day in USM scrimmage

The Southern Miss football team conducted a scrimmage Saturday on the school's campus as it enters the final week of spring practice.

Notes and observations from Saturday's workout at the Joe P. Park Practice Facility:

* The defense once again set the tone in today's scrimmage as the offense struggles to grasp head coach Todd Monken's scheme in just a dozen days of practice.

Monken acknowledged his offense's problems, saying "They kicked our rear ends."

* Redshirt junior walk-on quarterback Cole Weeks worked with the first string today while redshirt freshman Kyle Sloter worked with the second team. Neither quarterback had a great day, but Sloter usually had a hand in the plays further down field. Sloter and Rickey Bradley connected on a 65-yard touchdown pass.

* Cornerback Ed Wilkins picked off a Sloter pass early in the scrimmage.

* Receiver Dillon Fedora, Larry's son, had a nice day of working with the second string with several catches. However, he is ineligible to play this season after transferring in from Oklahoma State.

* The USM defense was having a blast throughout, talking plenty of trash with their counterparts on offense.

* It's apparent that senior running back Kendrick Hardy should play a large role in the offense after his playing time was inconsistent in 2012.

"He's going to have a tremendous role for us because he's a downhill back," Monken said. "That gives you a chance to break arm tackles. He's faster than you think and he's more powerful than you think. Anybody out here watching can tell he's a really good football player."

* Monken acknowledged Saturday that he's going to have to rely on the running backs, defense and special teams to win games this season. He pointed to those three areas as the strength of the squad.

* Senior linebacker Dylan Reda was very upbeat when talking about the state of the defense.

"I think this defense is going to be one of best defenses in conference and one of the best in the nation," Reda said. "We have a lot of leadership and playmakers."

* I'll have much more on the scrimmage in Saturday's Sun Herald.