Quotables: USM Head Coach Jeff Bower

Southern Miss Head Coach Jeff Bower met with the media to discuss the game against NC State and here is a sampler of what he had to say.

Opening Statement:
"I'm proud of our players and how we played in the game. I think we played hard in the game. We came out and dominated defensively. We had a good first quarter. We were able to stop the run and blitz the quarterback. UAB made some adjustments and did a good job. Darrell Hackney ended up getting a hot hand, especially in the second half. They did a nice job driving on us right before the half, to make the score 17-7. We didn't play very well offensively in the second quarter after getting off to a fast start. We didn't cover well at times. Hackney is very accurate and has a lot of talent. He's a very good quarterback. Sometimes we covered well, but he put the ball right where it was supposed to be. We kept coming back offensively. We responded with scores when they scored. We stayed on the field when we had to. Our last drive of the game was impressive, which we got a field goal out of. We ran the football well, especially in that last drive. Darren McCaleb's three field goals were huge in the game. I thought Dustin Almond played well. We had some young kids step up. Joe Singleton came in and did a good job. Ed Morgan played well. He didn't have a reception, but he blocked well for us. Eddie Willingham filled in for Caleb Hendrix and did a good job. Josh Barnes had a nice game. Chris Johnson made some more big catches and Shawn Nelson made some plays. We had some guys step up with a few of starters being out. It was good to see them do that."

Players Of The Week:
"On offense, it was George Batiste. He had 70 snaps and graded 81 percent. He had three pancakes, a cut and five knockdowns. He played really physical in the game. Caleb Hendrix was the defensive player of the week. He played 41 snaps and graded 83 percent. He had a quarterback pressure, a sack, had two tackles, one assist, one pass break-up. He was playing well when he got hurt. On special teams, it was Darren McCaleb. He was 4-of-4 on extra points and made all three field goals of 47, 44 and 20 yards. He did a nice job."

On Injuries:
We're ok. I don't know the status about Caleb Hendrix. We'll have to see how he responds and if he can do anything this week. I don't know what the status will be on Tavarres Williams and Pedi Causey. We'll get a look at those guys and we'll have a better idea after today's practice."

On N.C. State:
"They are a talented team. Their record doesn't indicate how good they are. They had Virginia Tech on the ropes and had a chance to win that game. The thing that has hurt this team the most is penalties and turnovers. They've played well enough to win if they don't do some of those things. They have a very good defense. Their front four are very good and preseason publications had their defensive line as the best in the country. They are really good there. They have active linebackers. They will pressure you a lot and play a lot of man coverage. Offensively, they throw the ball more than they run it. They have good skill people. They're big up front. They're having problems at quarterback. They played two against Wake Forest. In the Wake Forest game, they had two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Wake only had about 220 yards of total offense in the game. That's an indication on what's happened to him. They've played well enough to win, but mistakes and turnovers have hurt them. I think they are very good in the kicking game. Looking at the kickoff return unit, it looks like a highlight tape. They are first in the country in kickoff return. They are good there. They are also good at rushing the punter and they're good in special teams. It will be a big game for us. They are a talented football team. We've got to have a great week."

On If Jasper Faulk Replaces Caleb Hendrix If He Can't Play:
"I don't know. We haven't really talked about it. Eddie Willingham did a nice job of filling in for him. As far as depth there, Jasper can play corner or safety. We'll have to see from an injury standpoint where we are, and make some adjustments."

On Dustin Almond's Play:
"He understands that has to play well for us to be what we want to be. He has done that. I think he's worked hard during the week and prepared himself. Our offensive line has done a good job of giving him some protection. That's been a big key. He's made throws. He's played really well for us the past few weeks."

On Developing Consistency In The Past Two Games:
"It's positive, but you can't call yourself a good player or team until you play well consistently. We'll see what we do this week."

On The Offensive Line:
"They've played well. We had a few busts in the UAB game because they shifted on us. We need to continue to make progress in the running game. Larry Thomas ran hard in the game. I was glad to see us run the football like we did. We need to continue to make progress up front and knock people off the ball so we can have more balance on offense."

On If The Team Did Anything Different Defensively In The Second Half Against UAB:
"I think they made some adjustments. Hackney was hot too. We didn't contain him a few times and he got out and hurt us. We didn't change anything that we were doing. We were mixing it up, dropping eight and sometimes blitzing. When you play a quarterback like that, you've got to give him different looks. We didn't cover very well. We also gave up some big plays. They had two big plays that weren't mental errors, but we just didn't cover well. John Eubanks should've got inside on the slant route and Brandon Sumrall didn't run with his man. Those are the things we need to improve on."

On If The Four Game Road Stretch Is Tough Mentally For The Players:
"No. We knew what we had to do a few weeks back. That's part of it. We're not going to make excuses. We're going to get ourselves ready to go. We know that if we want to have the kind of year we want to have, we've got to be good on the road and we will have to win on the road."

On Larry Thomas:
"I thought he was playing well. He was running hard and playing well. We wanted to keep him in the game."

On What Has Pleased And Disappointed Him So Far This Season:
"I'm disappointed we've given up some big plays in the passing game. That's been around all-year long. I'm pleased with the way some of our young kids have stepped in and responded and played with our injuries."

On Josh Barnes:
"He gets better every week. He's a hard worker. We've developed a lot of confidence based on what he's done in the past few weeks."


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