The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Will Hall recognizes that a tough schedule brings “great opportunity.”

Dima Mixon
Southern Miss football head coach Will Hall speaks to media at Sun Belt Media Days.

At Sun Belt Football Media Days on Tuesday, Southern Miss football head coach Will Hall was pressed on the tough schedule the Golden Eagles will face this season. Last season, Southern Miss faced a brutal four-game stretch toward the end of the season with Louisiana, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, and South Alabama all in a row.

This season it gets even worse for the Golden Eagles. The October/November stretch is brutal, undoubtedly the toughest in the league. Southern Miss has a stretch of back-to-back road games versus South Alabama and Appalachian State.

They return home to play an improved ULM team before returning to the road to face Louisiana and SEC-foe Mississippi State, all before returning home to face the reigning league champions, Troy, on senior day.

With Hall trying to turn this program around in year three, the scheduling is not helping him much. However, Hall wants to continue focusing on building the program back to where Southern Miss football has been in the past, and that starts with being able to face schedules like this and winning challenging games.

“It’s no secret to anybody that we have the hardest schedule in the country for non-autonomy. That’s been documented, but with that comes great opportunity as well. Playing Alcorn, and Florida, and Tulane and Mississippi Stat out of conference will be tremendously challenging. And then, the Sun Belt west I think is going to be unbelievably competitive this year.” Hall said.

In many ways, this year’s October-November stretch can be compared to last year when they went on that three-game skid late in the season after starting 5-3. Hall was even asked what lessons he had learned from last year that could help this year.

“Outside of that [Georgia State], every one of our games was a one score game in the fourth quarter last year at some point. We won our share of those, and we lost our share of those. That’s kind of who we were. We weren’t a team that was going to beat anybody if we didn’t play well, but we were good enough to play with anybody when we did play well…..I hope we have learned from that. I think we have, we have a lot of kids coming back and who are battle tested.” Hall said.

When you look at the schedule with face value, you might mark down four for sure losses. However, Hall is relying on the veterans and the maturity of his team to use this demanding schedule as a tool to turn Southern Miss football around in year three.

“At the same time, our roster is built to manage it [the schedule.] We do have depth across the board. We don’t have a position that we feel like is not a legitimate, high level Sun Belt position. But we are going to have to play well. We have to play well each week. We are going to be good enough to where if we play well then we will have a chance to win.” Hall said.

Theoretically, if Southern Miss gets to South Alabama on October 17 best-case scenario, they would be 5-1, 3-0 in Sun Belt. That game will be tremendously huge regarding standings and potential for Hall’s first statement win during the season.

It does seem odd that the game with the potential magnitude that it might possess falls on a midweek clash on a Tuesday night. Granted, being on national television undercuts the cons of playing on midweek, and Hall would be happy if midweeks continue and have no problem with the schedule as it is laid out.

“I think it’s great…I think everybody within the Sun Belt administration is taking advantage of every opportunity we can to get our brand out in front of people at a point in time where we can get all eyes on us. We play two great regional rivalries on midweek games.” Hall said.

Southern Miss plays both South Alabama and Louisiana on midweek games in the fall.

The toughness of the schedule leaves the door open for a potential breakout season for Hall and company. But it also could doom Hall’s best roster he has seen in his three years a Southern Miss.

What will happen? Only time will tell.

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