Southern Miss Head Coach Jay Hopson
On the 44-28 Win at Rice
“I thought it was a tale of two halves on Saturday. First half, we talked about it after the game, I thought we played well defensively. I thought we play really well offensively in the second half. I thought our guys battled for 60 minutes. We had some plays that we left on the field, but give Rice credit. They played hard, and it was a hard fought win. I’m just glad we got it.”
On the protection of QB Nick Mullens
“We protected well. We did. We made some dynamic plays, which were big plays, in the game. Allenzae [Staggers] and Nick [Mullens] connected, but it takes 11 for that to happen. Up front we blocked well and so did the running backs. Nick delivered the ball and Allenzae did a good job catching and running with it. Julian [Allen] had a big play too, it was a difference maker. I thought, especially in the second half, we had some tremendous offensive plays.”
Do you prepare different to make sure the team doesn’t start slow?
“Not really. I thought we had a chance to get off to a fast start. Unfortunately, we had the turnover right off the get go, we were driving the ball and it was a nice run, nice play. It could’ve been bang-bang, two scores on two possessions, but the reality was we had only scored three points at the end of the first quarter. We had our opportunities. We just have to take care of those opportunities and take advantage of them.”
What’s the key to the defensive success on third down?
“We’re going to knock on wood here, but I think it’s always a big down because if you hold there you give your offense a chance to get back on the field. First and second [down] are critical too because it’s a lot easier on third and one than it is on third and 16. We have to make sure we do a good job on all three [downs], but third is always a big down.”
What jumps out to you about UTSA?
“They’re a very talented football team. Arizona State and Colorado State are games they could have won. They opened at home with a win and then could have won at Old Dominion. We know we have a really good football team we have to prepare for, a talented football team. [When] you’re in conference play you need to be ready to play each and every week.”
What UTSA players jump out at you?
“A few. They have playmakers. The quarterback does a great job, the running backs and wide receivers make plays offensively. They fly around on defense and they’re very aggressive.”
What are you thoughts on UTSA coach Frank Wilson?
“Frank has done a tremendous job everywhere he’s been. He’s been an excellent football coach, recruiter and he has my utmost respect.”