Back to the basics for USM defense

USM defense looking for a repeat act

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WLBT) - There really is not many things that the Southern Miss defense can do better compared to a season ago. But the Golden Eagles are going to try.

2018 saw the USM defense rise to the occasion, allowing just 278.4 yards per game to its opponents, which not only ranked first by a wide-margin in Conference USA. It was good enough for third in the entire country. A defensive coach by trade, Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson is proud of what his defense accomplished last season. However, he is quick to remind his team that it doesn’t mean it will be just as easy this upcoming season.

“That was last year,” said Hopson. “You hope (your team) is mature enough to understand that and I think we are, but we got to go out there and prove that we are so again.”

One of the revelations for the Golden Eagles last season was safety Ky’el Hemby, who put together a sophomore season that was good enough to earn All-Conference USA honors and land him on both the Thorpe and Nagurski Award watch lists for his junior season. He, like his coach, is not letting the positive preseason press get to his head.

“We preach not to be complacent,” said Hemby. “We’ve got to move past us being (ranked) three last year, we’ve got to be one this year.

“We want to get better every year.”

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