HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WTVA/USM Athletics) - As the Southern Miss football team made the transition to shoulder pads on its third day of practice Sunday morning, new Golden Eagle head coach Ellis Johnson says his team is right on course after the first weekend of camp.
"I thought it was better," Johnson said of the two-plus hour practice early Sunday morning at the Joe P. Park Practice Facility. "We got the shoulder pads on and that obviously helps in evaluating how we are coming along. It wasn't very physical and we are obviously are not going to tackle until we get into full pads but that will come along each and every day for when we add pads."
Johnson also talked about the progression of the young quarterbacks in camp as the coaching staff looks to name a starter to replace graduating four-year starter Austin Davis. The first-year coach likes the progress of the group, but still stressed the need for improvement with the group as the squad continues to work toward its season opener, Sept. 1, at Nebraska.
"The quarterbacks are making some really super plays, but this morning they also made a lot of bad plays," Johnson said. "They threw a lot of foul balls and wild pitches and they have to be much more consistent, but we have overloaded them right now mentally and that is what is accounting for so many execution problems."
"We've got to have somebody to take charge," said offensive coordinator Steve Buckley. "Austin was a quarterback here four years, and he took most every snap for a period of four years. Great leader, great player, great competitor, all of the above. So what we want is the guy to take charge of the offense, the guy that can run our offense the most effectively and lead this team and give us the best chance to win football games and that's the bottom line."
Southern Miss returns to the practice field Monday morning in shoulder pads and shorts.