HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The time has come for Saturday's Black and Gold Spring Game (Saturday, 12 p.m., free admission), and Southern Miss held its final spring practice Thursday night at the Joe P. Park Practice Facility.
Head Coach Jay Hopson
On the general movement of practice today
"I thought certainly it was a more defensive day today. I thought we made some strides tonight. That's what I'm most pleased with today. It's getting towards the end of spring and I can see we are growing in our schematics and skill is always the biggest room for improvement."
On how he felt spring practice went in the long run
"I do. I think schematically we have put everything in that we wanted to. You want to get ready to move on into the summer without having touched this or that. We are gearing up for the Black and Gold Game Friday so we can play on Saturday."
On the structure of the Black and Gold Game
"Our coaches had a draft and that's always fun for them and the players. There's no one better player over the other. It's a true Black and Gold game split down the middle. Half the staff on Gold, half on Black and we are blessed to have Jeff Bower as head coach of the black and Bobby Collins with the gold. These guys all love competing and all spring it's offense versus defense, and now those guys get to kind of unite and pull for each other on the other side of the ball. That makes it fun."
Inside wide receivers/tight ends coach Scotty Walden
On what he has learned about this team since coming to Southern Miss
“Number one is being coachable. The kids are very coachable. I tell you what, we get in the meeting room and make corrections, things like that. They’re great at hearing something one time and making that adjustment on the field. I think we have a high football IQ. There’s a lot of guys on this squad that played a lot of down on Saturday, so they bring a lot to the table in terms getting corrected once. Half the time I’ll go up to guys like Chase Whitehead or Allenzae Staggers and they already know what they did wrong before I tell them. The second thing is they’re blue collar. I think that speaks to the culture of this University here at Southern Miss. It’s always been a blue collar, chip on your shoulder, gonna play with an edge type place. That’s what these kids play with from defense to offense to special teams. That’s been awesome to see."
On what he has implemented during spring practice
“Being detailed oriented is my biggest thing. I think we can sit here and focus on Saturdays, but if we don’t take care of the in-betweens, Tuesday, Thursdays and even drill to drill, those little things, Saturday doesn’t matter. If we take care of those things Saturday will take care of itself. To me, being crazy detailed oriented on our fundamentals and understanding the scheme and what we’re trying to get accomplished, that’s it. I’m not a hands in the pocket type coach, nor is anybody on this staff. As soon as a play is done? We’re coaching. Just getting our guys used to the fact that they’re gonna be coached and they’re gonna be coached hard. They’re gonna be loved hard as well. Being detailed oriented is the biggest thing that I’m after."
Redshirt-junior linebacker Darian Yancey
On how the defense looks with new guys and battles
"We had a lot of guys leave our defense last year, but competition-wise we are having fun and helping each other out. You got Allen Fails, and he and I are competing for a job, and you have Racheem Boothe competing with Jeremy Sangster so we have a lot of competition on our defense right now."
On how their intensity has been and was today
"We love being intense. It helps us to have fun when it's hot. It was more intense as a defense because we talk in the locker room about being more vocal."
On Keon Howard and Kwadra Griggs in the QB competition
"Both of them are doing really well. The competition between them is probably the biggest between anyone on the team. The leverage makes them better. All of us are watching because none of us know what will happen next. It's a great competition for both of us. Both go with the ones and twos so it's mostly the same."