Jay Hopson weekly press conference

Jay Hopson weekly press conference

HATTIESBURG, MS (WLBT) -Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson held his weekly news conference at the Duff Athletic Center, Monday, as the Golden Eagles get ready to play host to Marshall for a Conference USA tilt in its annual Military Appreciation Day.

The Golden Eagles and Thundering Herd play at 2 p.m. CT at M.M. Roberts Stadium. The game can be viewed at Stadium on Facebook, as well as be heard on one of the affiliates of the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network.

Here are some of things Hopson said during his news conference:

Jay Hopson on the Military Appreciation Game against Marshall, speaking to Lt. Col. Kirk Junker who in attendance

“On behalf of the Southern Miss football program, thank you for all that you do. You guys do the important work, the job that really counts. Thank you for keeping us safe at night and thank you for all of the sacrifices, we really appreciate you and God bless you.”

Coach Hopson on his family ties to the military

“My father was in the reserves at Camp Shelby for about 18 years. This game has a special connection to me. As a kid I can remember my dad going down to Camp Shelby. I can’t tell Colonel Junker enough how much we appreciate everything that they do and the sacrifices that our military make for us. Every night that you go to bed in America, you feel like you are in safe country that provides you with every liberty that you have and these are the guys that are on the battlefields. We talk about winning a game and going to war and battling but these guys are really going to war and they are battling. They are putting their lives on the line every day and every night and you just can’t thank them enough. We really do want to be a military school. Camp Shelby means so much to Hattiesburg and the Pine Belt area, we just want to support them. We want the soldiers here are much as we can have them.”

Opening statement regarding the game against Charlotte on Saturday

“Saturday was just a tough loss. Our guys certainly fought and as a football coach you are always proud of that. We fought until the end, we just made too many mistakes and that is as honest as I can be. We had opportunities to score numerous times and that is something that we have to correct. As coaches and players, we have to make sure that we really work on finite details. It’s a frustrating loss but it’s a loss and it’s spilled milk and we have to move on to the next game. We are certainly looking forward to getting on the practice field and going back to work. We are just ready to get back on a field.”

On the mistakes made in the game

“I take responsibility for all of the mistakes, I really do - I am the head football coach. We have to limit mistakes. That is something that we have to do if we want to be successful. We are a good football team. We are five points from being 5-2 and we are 18 points from being 6-1. But guess what? We are 3-4 and that is the reality of where we are at. We just have to go to work. I want us to be the team that I know we can be and that is a challenge that I have for our coaches and our players. We have to take care of little things and if we do that, we will be ok. The little things have to be taken care of first or else they lead to big things. Again, we are battling and as a football coach I sit there and I am proud of that. Never once have I not seen this football team not battle back to the end, win, lose or draw. That is what we did again on Saturday, we got in a hole and we fought back. We had a missed execution in our passing game that led to a quick six for Charlotte and then we go down there and we got six on the line of scrimmage and we get a touchdown taken off of the board in the red zone and then we have another turnover on about the 8-yard line. Those things will get you beat, they always will. If you don’t protect the football and you don’t take care of details, you get beat. I take responsibility for all of it, that’s my job and I’m fine with it but we have to really work on the details and get better. Again, I keep saying it but I like this football team. We are just going to keep battling and keep chopping wood and we are going to go to work.”

On the health of Jack Abraham

“Jack is doing good. He got banged up a little bit, but I fully expect him to start and play Saturday.”

On Tate Freshman Tate Whatley’s performance at quarterback

“Tate did really well, he was actually our offensive player of the week. I thought that he led our football team really well. I was really pleased with the way that he played.”

On the defensive play of Sherrod Ruff

“Sherrod Ruff was our defensive player of the week. Sherrod was all over the field. He had a lot of tackles for loss and played well.”

Hopson on what he saw from Whatley on Saturday

“What I saw from Tate on Saturday is what I saw when we were recruiting him. Just looking at the two, I saw a lot of similarities in Tate with Austin (Davis) and then I saw a lot of similarities with Nick (Mullens) and Jack, just looking at those two guys. Again, Tate had a good game, but that is something that we have to do each and every week. I am looking forward to watching him develop.”

On the red zone issues

“It’s frustrating. We have had opportunities. We outgained them 465 to 260 or something like that and we lose the game. But then again, that is what happens when you turn the ball over. At the end of the day, you can look at every stat that you want but the stats don’t count, the scoreboard is what counts. We have to protect the football when we get down in the red zone and give ourselves an opportunity. We can’t have turnovers lead to cheap scores. That is what got us this game and it got us in the ULM game. You have to protect the football, that’s football and that is something that we have to do a better job of.”

On Kwadra Griggs not appearing in Saturday’s game against Charlotte

“I was going to give him an opportunity to go in and I just don’t think that he felt like he was ready to roll yet so we wound up going with the youngster (Tate Whatley) and he did a great job.”

Hopson’s thoughts on Marshall

“Marshall is just a good football team. They play fast on defense and offensively they are multi-dimensional, they can run it and they can throw it. I am a worn out record but it’s Conference USA play, we have another good football team coming to town and we have to have a great week. We have to come out on Saturday and execute and that is something that we didn’t do last week.”

“Marshall is a good football team as always. They are a team that has our utmost respect and again, we know with Marshall and with almost every Conference USA team that when we play, it is going to be a battle for 60 minutes. We know that we have a big challenge ahead. When you come off of a game like (Charlotte) I think I speak for the team, you are ready to get back on the field. Those are hard to walk off the field and sit on so we are ready to get back out there and hopefully we will have a great week of practice and we will come ready to play on Saturday.”

On Parker Shaunfield

“He has had a few ups and downs this year but sometimes that goes with the kicking game. We have complete confidence in Parker and he is our kicker.”

On the guys that have stepped up this season

“Those guys are playing well. I felt like all of those guys, Tim (Jones), Jordan (Mitchell) and Quez (Watkins) have played really well. Our receiving core has gotten better and better each week and again, we made some big plays, we had some explosive plays at the wide receiver position. De’Michael had a big explosive play in the fourth quarter which got us kind of back into the game. Those guys have all played well, they are tough guys and competitors. They will be ready to play.”

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