HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WLOX) - Two-thirds of the “Mississippi Big 3″ won’t see the field until August 17th thanks to the SEC’s new practice plan. However, that doesn’t affect Southern Miss who wasted no time hitting the gridiron.
Fall camp is in session as the Golden Eagles woke up early Wednesday morning for their first official practice of the 2020 season.
It's the first time the team has been together as a group since preparing for the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. USM lost to Tulane to finish 2019 with a 7-6 record.
The Eagles divided into position groups, going over fundamentals for a socially distant practice, while coaches wore masks for protection.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty though as Conference USA move forward with an 8-game conference slate and the Eagles try to replace two of their nonconference games, but Coach Jay Hopson said he was pleased with what he saw on day one.
“We’ve done our practice schedule a little bit different this year compared to the past. We did a little bit more one-on-one, individual stuff in the past on day one, so we’ve cut a little bit of that out,” Hopson told local media in a Zoom conference call Wednesday morning. “For the first day, considering everything we’ve been through, I was pleased with it.”
Redshirt senior quarterback and starter, Jack Abraham, said that nothing changed from a football perspective during practice. Things were a little different when players went to get a drink of water however.
“We can’t go up to the water cow and just douse ourselves with water. Then we got little pumps that we have to individually go up there and get our own water,” Abraham said. “There’s obviously different safety precautions, but we just want to go out there and play ball man. We’ll do whatever we have to do to halt the spread of this thing and keep us safe so we can play some football.”
Abraham will be adjusting to his third new offense in as many years as he’s been in Hattiesburg, with the Eagles new offensive coordinator, Matt Kubik, from Louisiana-Monroe.
The last time we saw linebacker Racheem Boothe out on the field for Southern Miss was back on November 23rd against Western Kentucky, where his season came to an unfortunate end, tearing his ACL in his left knee.
Boothe started nine games prior to injury, posting 49 tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in 2019. As far as his recovery process, the USM defensive leader says he’s moving ahead of schedule.
“The offseason went pretty well, honestly. I kind of moved pretty quickly through the recovery process and I was pretty happy about that,” Boothe said.
“The workouts have been better for me, you know? The recovery process also helped me get my body a little bit better, so it’s been pretty good.”
Boothe says that his health right now is somewhere between 75 and 80 percent.