The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Southern Miss looks to depth and experience to open fall camp. Here are two takeaways:

Sean Smith

It is that time of year again when the sun is blazing over the practice field, the Golden Eagles are sweating it out in fall camp, and all of us reporters are soaking every single ounce of sweat on our bodies, hoping for something crazy to happen in practice to report on. It is football season, and Southern Miss opened fall camp on Wednesday in a new season with so much intrigue and question marks all across the field.

“Good first day of install, our kids pretty much know that. It’s about the fourth time they have been through it. Got to get in here and get hydrated and get ready to go at it again. We have to go one more day without pads, and then we get to play real football.” Southern Miss head coach Will Hall said.

Here are three big takeaways from day one of fall camp:

1. Averie Habas is out with an undisclosed medical issue. There is no timetable for his return.


When it looked like Southern Miss would be heading into fall camp without any surprises, Hall announced that star linebacker Averie Habas is out for an unknown period due to an “undisclosed medical issue.”

“Averie has got a medical issue right now that I can’t talk about. So, he’s out for a little while. We have great hope that we are going to get him back really soon. He’s got something on, he’s a tremendous young man, great Golden Eagle, does everything right. But, he’s going through something that’s above my pay grade to talk about. We hope to have him back in the near, near future.” Hall said.

In almost a déjà vu sense, where last season saw so much injury at the linebacker spot losing Hayes Maples and Swayze Boseman, Habas stepped in and became a force in the linebacker room last year. It also helped Habas become a clear leader on the defensive side of the ball. His not being on the field during an extended time at fall camp is concerning in just that factor. Hall, thankfully, can look to depth in this area where in the past he could not.


“We got Jalil Clemons, Josh Carr and Tre’Mon Henry. It’s hard to have more than a three deep plus one, even if your Alabama and Georgia. I know everybody likes to harp on that and it’s been an issue for us. Yeah, he [Habas] wasn’t here today, but we got Jalil Clemons, Josh Carr, Tre’Mon Henry and Caleb Garner. So we got a three deep plus one, which that’s what you want even if your Ohio State or wherever.” Hall said.

Hall will be leaning on the depth he has built to tackle situations like this that have come up with Habas. They will be fine depth-wise without Habas on the field, but will extracting the leader of the defense off the field in fall camp prove to be a cause for concern? I think it could be, and it is something to monitor in the days ahead.

2. It is the Billy Wiles and Holman Edwards show this fall.

The QB room is obviously the most significant question mark during the 2023 fall camp. It would have been first on the takeaways if not for the breaking news of Averie Habas not being on the field. At Sun Belt Media Days in New Orleans last week, Hall confirmed that the starting job was between Clemson transfer Billy Wiles and Houston transfer Holman Edwards. Both players competed today and had their good moments and bad moments. With no clear frontrunner out of the two, analyzing everything that goes on with each player during the drills is necessary.

Wiles was first up in practically every main drill and ran offensive sets with the presumptive ones, Holman ran with the twos, and then at the end of practice, he ran with the ones and led an entire drive down the field.

“I think it was a good first day. I think they are really taking in the offense. They made accurate throws, I thought our kids made a lot of plays. They were able to make a lot of plays with the ball location. I thought they made some good checks. We have to continue to grow and move forward with that.” Hall said.

Wiles and Holman are coming in as transfers having to learn an entirely new offense and scheme. Both felt that they had made significant strides throughout the spring and summer.

“I’m just getting the offense down more and more since I have been here. I feel really comfortable with it now. Just competing in the weight room and on the field, and getting better physically and mentally.” Wiles said.

He noted that his wide receiver core is “talented” and that he thinks they will win games because of the wide receiver room, which I thought was a nice touch.

Edwards felt similar to Wiles but also some different.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot. Especially in my knowledge of football, overall. Coach Hall and his guys do a great job of breaking down everything.” Holman said.

Holman had a better day on Day 1, but obviously, it is still anybody’s contest.


Some other notes on the day

–      Secondary looks solid, even with losing Eric Scott Jr and Natrone Brooks to the NFL.

–      The receiver room is probably the best it has been in the Hall era.

–      Jake Lange looks to have a lot fun being in the quarterback room.

–      Frank Gore Jr looks to be asserting himself in leadership in the RB backroom.

All in all, a good start to fall camp for Southern Miss. Not the best considering the Habas news, but Hall and company will look to depth and experience if the injury bug comes and bites again.

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