PETRO: Observations after a month of footballBy CAMAL PETRO,
Just like that, we’re four weeks into the high school football season and two weeks into the college football season, so naturally, I have some thoughts I’d like to share. Like I did a few weeks ago, I’ll break down those thoughts into four subject lines.
First down: How good is Hattiesburg?
Well, first off, the Tigers are pretty darn good. You don’t start 4-0 with wins over Petal, Laurel and Oak Grove just by being lucky. They have a solid running game, led by quarterback Jarod “Snoop” Conner and two Division-I caliber running backs, and a stout defense, so why can’t this season be a one to remember in the Hub City?
Entering the season, the question wasn’t the depth on this team, but rather if some players could step up in the absence of the skills guys from last season. I think so far through the non-district portion of its schedule, Hattiesburg has definitely done that.
They only, and I mean only, issue I have is all of the penalties, and the possibility of there being an underlying problem with that. I covered three of Hattiesburg’s four games, and the numbers are pretty high. Against Petal, Hattiesburg had 10 penalties for 71 yards. The next week against Laurel, 11 flags for 92. Since I wasn’t at its third game, skipping to the fourth against Oak Grove, seven for 70 yards, but Hattiesburg was called for a handful of offsetting penalties with the Warriors.
Second down: Oak Grove should be fine
Oak Grove is still a dangerous team. I just think it ran into a buzzsaw in Hattiesburg while it’s trying to replace a dynamic quarterback on its offense. With John Rhys Plumlee out for a few weeks most likely, the Warriors will have to try to find areas on their offense to utilize.
And they have those guys. Orlando Simon, Tyler Taylor, Kevin Barnett, and at times, Hayes Maples and Jack Harris, who have proven to be effective on offense. The bye week this week gives Oak Grove a chance to organize itself and to get ready for district play. Who knows how long Plumlee will be out, but the defense is still stout and the offense has its playmakers.
Third down: District play begins next week
People like me, and fans of high school football, have made a lot of predictions and have had a lot of assumptions before the most important part of the season has started. We’ve had some area teams play well, while others haven’t gotten it fully together yet, but really, no team has it fully together yet.
None of that matters if a team can’t pick up enough wins in its district to make the playoffs. Teams like Purvis and Sacred Heart can regroup and string together wins over the next couple of weeks, while others might falter.
The next month and a half should be fun.
Fourth down: Thoughts on Southern Miss
I’ve seen the first two Southern Miss games – OK, maybe I didn’t watch most of the second half of the Southern University game – and I thought I’d share my observations so far.
I’ll skip over the obvious of who the starting quarterback should be and the fact that T-Rod Daniels is electric, although, I’d totally be fine with T-Rod coming to every post-game press conference from here on out.
Even though Southern Miss is sporting a 1-1 record, I’ve thought the Nasty Bunch have played ridiculously good so far, especially on the money down – third down. Against Kentucky, Southern Miss held the Wildcats to a 3-13 conversion rate, and last week Southern University was 0-for-12.
On offense, the weapons are there to be explosive, and the Eagles have shown they can be at times. I thought the second half of Week 1, and all of last week’s game, the offense has performed well, and that was with Kwadra Griggs as the quarterback. Quez Watkins and Korey Robertson have impressed me early, and T-Rod can make the big plays in unpredictable situations. Man, that dude is fast.
Southern Miss got off to a hot start last season, too, and then the losses came, so let’s wait and see how it goes through the next couple of weeks.
Follow Camal on Twitter via @PineBeltSPORTS or email him: camal@PineBeltSPORTS.com