USM hits the road for ULM Saturday

By ALAN HINTON,

Southern Miss played well in its football opener against an SEC team and overwhelmed an outmanned FCS team in its second game.

This Saturday, another obstacle exists in that the Golden Eagles play their first road game, at 6 p.m. against Louisiana Monroe.

“Doesn’t matter,” said safety Tarvarius Moore. “We feel like we’re always the underdog.”

Southern Miss is 1-1, with a loss to Kentucky and a win over Southern University, while Louisiana Monroe is 0-1, with a 37-29 loss to Memphis in a rainstorm and a cancellation against Florida State because of Hurricane Irma.

“They do subtle things,” Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said about the Warhawks. “They're a multiple team offensively. They put up some big plays against Memphis. They won the stat battle against Memphis. It was a hard-fought game. They give multiple looks. We have to be ready.”

Louisiana Monroe out gained Memphis 425-416 in total yards on Aug. 31, with 246 yards and 17 first downs coming in the second half. The Warhawks converted 7-of-10 third downs and 2-of-2 fourth downs.

“We don’t have a whole lot of information because they had just one game and that was in a monsoon,” USM offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said.

But, as most coaches say, it matters more about your team playing well than the opponent, and for six straight quarters, Southern Miss has done so, beating Southern University 45-0 last week.

Kwadra Griggs established himself as USM’s starting quarterback against Southern, completing 15-of-23 passes for 209 yards while Keon Howard, who started against Kentucky, played most of the second half and completed 5-of-9 passes for 71 yards.

“It's an ongoing battle, but after week one, (Griggs) earned it and, through week two, he did a good job; so he'll start week three,” Hopson said.” I'm going to let the competition continue. Keon came in and had a nice throw to Jaylond (Adams). He went through a couple of series and did a good job, but we'll start off with Kwadra and go from there.”

Griggs missed a few preseason practices with an injured hand, but there’s no problem now.

“He can throw it through a wall,” Hopson said.

Ito Smith and T-Rod Daniels will both see action against Louisiana Monroe while Tez Parks probably won’t, due to an injury.

Southern Miss had 11 players catch a pass against Southern, including true freshman Jaylond Adams and redshirt freshman Quez Watkins. Expect to see both of them to continue to get playing time.

“The good thing we have with (Allenzae Staggers), Quez, Isaiah (Jones), Korey (Robertson) and Jaylond (Adams) and the list goes on even in the backfield with T-Rod, it’s not enough footballs sometimes,” Hopson said. “We're just going to have to spread it around, which is critical in football not being one-dimensional.”

Southern Miss also had 11 players play a defensive line position against Southern, and that might continue, too.

“They're all playing about the same amount of plays,” Hopson said. “We have a nice rotation going. Up front they all played physical. I didn't see anybody out there who didn't play well.”

ESPN3 will televise the game from Malone Stadium.