The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Southern Miss opens spring training, hoping to turn the football program around

Southern Miss Athletics

Southern Miss football recently opened spring training and has held five practices, all hoping to turn the football program around for the better after a disappointing 2023 season.

“We have had a good five days,” Southern Miss head coach Will Hall said. “A very physical five days.”

The Golden Eagles welcome 29 newcomers to the practice fields as well as a new offensive and defensive coordinator in Chip Long and Clay Bignel.

After coming off the field after the 3-9 season last year, Hall knew that the football team could not continue operating the way it had in the past.

“There is a lot of urgency in our program going into year four with the way we have recruited consistently over a period of time,” Hall said. “I think there is an extreme urgency starting with me all the way to the top of the program.”

With that urgency, Hall has transformed how he even coaches after giving up play calling back in October. During all of the practice, Hall did not call the plays and didn’t even seem in tune with what the offense was doing, putting full faith in Long.

Hall has lost a lot on the offensive side of the ball, but he has brought in several transfers, and some big names are still around, such as Dreke Clark and Ti Mims.

Mims got shaken up on the first day of Spring Training and wasn’t live during the team’s scrimmage, but Hall said they should have him back soon.

Southern Miss has healthy competition at quarterback between four players who could realistically win the starting job: Billy Wiles, Ethan Crawford, freshman John White, and Flordia State transfer Tate Rodemaker.

“We got Tate as a transfer who has played a lot of football, he’s an older kid in his fifth year,” Hall said. “You got Billy Wiles who is in his fourth year, and he played some ball for us last year. You got Ethan Crawford who played a little bit of football for us last year. Then you got John White early enrolling right there. So, you have four guys really competing for that spot.”

Rodemaker has been given first-team reps at quarterback in every practice, but it’s still way too early for that to really mean anything. Hall has said that “every job is open.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Southern Miss brings a lot back from their defense last year. Including Jalil Clemons, Jalen Williams, Dylan Lawrence and MJ Daniels.

In the team’s live scrimmage practices, the tackling was surprisingly very good, even early in Spring Training. Bignell is working hard to install his new system at defense, and his players all voiced that his system is one of the best they have played under.

“We are playing more attack,” USM defensive tackle Kristin Booth said. “Coach Bigell wants us to fly to the ball. All problems work out when you fly to the ball. He’s teaching us that now, and you’ll see what happens when we play like that.”

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