Southern Miss football excited for ‘opportunity’ ahead of challenging 2023 schedule

(AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
(AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)(Matthew Hinton | AP)
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 4:31 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WLBT) - With expectations comes opportunity, and that is exactly how Southern Miss is set to enter the 2023 season under head coach Will Hall that is just 39 days away.

After spending the past two seasons building the historic football program from the ground up, Coach Hall got the Golden Eagles back to winning ways in the 2022 season after securing Southern Miss’ first winning season since 2019 and first bowl victory since 2016.

Coach Hall will head into year three with the most talented roster he’s had since the beginning of his tenure in the Hub City. He also faces a daunting schedule, having to face the likes of Cotton Bowl champions and rivals Tulane, Florida State, Alcorn State, and the SEC’s Mississippi State along with their Sun Belt Conference schedule.

“This is the most talented roster we’ve had,” Coach Hall told WLBT at the SBC Media Day. “We’ve recruited well and maintained [talent] well. The schedule is very taxing. To play Alcorn State, who has a great chance to win their conference; Tulane, who won the Cotton Bowl last year after beating USC; play Florida State on the road, who will be a top 5 team; and play Mississippi State on the road, another SEC team; that’s a tremendous challenge. But that’s also a tremendous opportunity.”

“Southern Miss has a name brand and does mean something in the Group of 5... and that’s an opportunity for us to catapult our names back into that conversation. Our team is excited about that opportunity and as far as expectations, we just want to play well each week and do what it takes to win.”

There were plenty of highs during the 2022 campaign, with a victory against Tulane on the road and a LendingTree Bowl win against Rice standing out. But there was also hardship in a season that lacked consistency.

The Golden Eagles have an abundance of returning talent offensively highlighted by star running back Frank Gore Jr. With the additions of transfers Holman Edwards and Billy Wiles leading the race for the QB1 spot, senior tight end Cole Cavallo says execution at that position and across the board is the missing piece to returning back to the top of conference standings.

“If we play well each and every week, we know we are going to win,” he said. “Last year, the games that we lost, we just didn’t execute fully. We’d have one good quarter, then one bad quarter... so it was about executing each play. If we play well, the rest will take care of itself.”

“We have enough talent to [get back to the top],” he added.

Southern Miss will open the season against Alcorn State at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg on September 2. Kick-off is set for 6 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN Plus.

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