Despite being picked to finish second in the Conference USA west division this season, the Southern Miss football team isn’t taking anything for granted at C-USA Media Days, fresh off its first bowl game absence since 2014.
Last year, the Golden Eagles won three out of their last four games to reach bowl eligibility, but found themselves on the outside looking in as one of four qualified teams left out of the postseason.
To make matters worse, USM lost three of its games by a combined seven points — including an overtime defeat to eventual league champion UAB.
Coming in to 2019, the Black and Gold returns the nation’s most accurate passer in Jack Abraham and the nation’s top defense in first downs allowed as the cornerstones to a team ready to right the wrongs of a bowl game snub.
Wide receiver Jordan Mitchell said, “Well, that was definitely a snub for the whole program just cause that’s what we’re built on is going to bowl games, competing for championships. And so since my freshman year, I’ve been to a bowl game ever since I’ve been here. So last year definitely hurt.”
Linebacker Racheem Boothe said, “Knowing we weren’t going to a bowl game, that hit hard. That hit hard. And we just use that to fire us up the next year to keep going, be better than we were last year.”
Head Coach Jay Hopson said, “The thing that was tough, and again, you have to take care of it on the field, but we lost one game in overtime, one game by one point, one game by two points. We were literally six points away from being 9-2 and I think maybe 15 or 16 points away from being 10-1. So if you’re talking about basketball and RPI and quality of work, I felt like we’re only two touchdowns away from being 10-1 and yet we were 6-5. So the bottom line is I think that’s the challenge we have, we’ve got to take care of it on the field and you can’t afford that one-point loss or that overtime loss. You’ve got to find a way to get that W.”
Southern Miss will kick off the 2019 campaign against Alcorn State, Coach Hopson’s old stomping grounds, at 6 p.m. Saturday, August 31st from the Rock.