Southern Miss has chance to kickstart 2023 season in conference opener

Southern Mississippi quarterback Billy Wiles (8) throws against Tulane during an NCAA football...
Southern Mississippi quarterback Billy Wiles (8) throws against Tulane during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Hattiesburg, Miss. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)(Matthew Hinton | AP)
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 4:29 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - After a disappointing loss against rivals Tulane in the Battle for the Bell on Saturday, Southern Miss football is searching for a kickstart in the wake of a grueling 2023 schedule in arguably a must-win game against Arkansas State.

Coach Hall says trust will need to be restored between offensive players before the matchup against the Red Wolves after Hall’s offense only scored three points against the Green Wave at home.

“We never really made a play,” Coach Hall said. “We had some runs that we blocked really well, and our running backs didn’t hit [th]em where they were supposed to, and we had some runs we didn’t block well. It was a little bit of both. I think we lost trust in each other as the game played on and I think at running back, we lost a little trust that we’re gonna block it correctly... We gotta believe in each other. We have a good football team, and that’s something we need to continue to work on and get fixed.”

Frank Gore Jr., who rushed for just 22 yards on 13 carries, will look for a bounce-back week individually after escaping an injury scare on Saturday against an Arkansas State defense that ranks last in total defense in the Sun Belt Conference.

Last season, USM, led by Jackson native Jake Lange’s heroics, orchestrated a second-half comeback against the Red Wolves in a homecoming contest at “The Rock,” beating Arkansas State 20-19. It sparked a three-game midway through the season.

[READ: Meet Jake Lange, from walk-on to Southern Miss hero]

However, Coach Hall says this year is different because of the talent of his roster and that it is yet to reach its potential.

“I haven’t thought about it that way,” Hall told WLBT. “We’re more focused on playing up to our potential. In the past, I don’t know that we were a good football team. We were trying to become a good football team. I think we’ve got a good football team now that is not playing as well as we can play, and that’s something we are concentrating on inwardly to make sure we can make plays in all three phases.”

Kickoff against the Red Wolves is set for 6 p.m. It will be streamed on ESPN Plus.

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