Keeping Score

Game week: Notes from Monday's USM press conference

Here are some quick notes, thoughts from Monday's press conference for Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken:

* It appears that freshman Tez Parks has to play catch-up if he's going to see significant time at running back this season. Junior Jalen Richard, sophomore George Payne and freshman Ito Smith appear to be the set rotation headed into Saturday's game at Mississippi State.

Parks got injured in the middle of fall camp and missed significant time.

"It's going to be hard at this point to get him caught up," Monken said.

* Defensive coordinator Dave Duggan said that defensive end Dasman McCullum is looking strong and healthy headed into the season opener. McCullum played injured for much of the 2013 season. 

McCullum is listed ahead of sophomore Dylan Bradley at the bandit.

* Cole Weeks is listed as the second-string quarterback behind sophomore Nick Mullens.

* Monken said he feels "really good" about his offensive line. The only starting job that's uncertain on the line is at right tackle with redshirt freshman Jerry Harris and junior college transfer Norman Price both listed at the top of the depth chart. Harris has held a slight edge on Price for much of fall camp.

* Defensive coordinator Dave Duggan describes junior college transfer Brian Anderson as "exactly what we needed" at middle lienbacker.

* Weakside linebacker Alan Howze said that he now weighs 235 pounds, the heaviest he's been during his time at USM.

* Louisville native Markese Triplett grew up less than 30 miles from Starkville, but he played down the suggestion that this Saturday's game is bigger than most.

"I'm just ready to play somebody else," he said. "I can't speak for the whole team. I don't know how everybody else feels. It doesn't matter if we play Mississippi State. I'm just ready to play someone else."

Triplett said he watched far more Southern Miss games growing up than MSU games.