BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken had his Golden Eagles open spring football practice in helmets and shorts for about 2 1/2 hours Monday at the Joe P. Park Practice Facility.
The second-year coach is trying to build a winning atmosphere and he liked the team's effort. Last season Southern Miss posted an 11-1 record.
"Obviously, our second year with the same system on both sides of the ball,"stated Monken.
"It is always going to go smoother and I thought our energy, our attitude and our body language was good. I thought our guys were flying around. It was a great start."
Monken saw a noticeable improvement from year one to year two and it sets the tone for recruiting.
"When you start recruiting, guys know what you are looking for, the type of player you want on your team. It is so much easier the second time around," stated Monken.
He said the players are stronger, especially the wide receivers and a lot of improvement from the younger guys.
Monken expects more improvement will be made as the Golden Eagles move forward during the spring. The team will have a total of 15 practice sessions.
"There are a lot of areas we need to improve on, starting with me," said Monken. "I have to coach better. I need to be more positive. We have to find a way to do it better."
He added that he and his staff have to recruit better.
The Golden Eagles return to the practice fields Wednesday afternoon at 3:45.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and his Bulldogs begin preparations for the 2014 season at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Leo Seal Jr. Football complex.
Of the 15 practices, 14 will be open to the public. The Bulldogs will scrimmage on March 29 and April 5. The Maroon-White Spring Game is set for April 12 at noon.
Expectations are high with quarterback Dak Prescott returning for his junior season. He helped set a number of Mississippi State offensive records for total yards (5,647), yards per game (434.4), passing yards (3,178), first downs (300) and completion percentage (59.0).
Prescott completed 156-of-267 passes for 1,940 yards and 10 touchdowns. He led the Bulldogs with 829 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He leads all returning SEC quarterbacks with 17 career rushing touchdowns.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze had his Rebels back on the practice field Monday after taking a week off.
Freeze said,"I was real pleased after the squad's two-hour, full-pads practice session in the Manning Center. "I was concerned coming off spring break, but they're 4-for-4 with their attitude and effort. They got after each other really good and had a real good workout."
Coach Freeze said offensive lineman Austin Golson, wide receivers Cody Core and Collins Moore, defensive end C.J. Johnson and linebacker Christian Russell all stood out.
Freeze said,"Johnson is developing into one of our leaders and I'm really excited about what's going on there."
The Rebels first practice open to the public is set for Saturday for 11:00 a.m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.