Practice with Full Pads Excites Southern Miss Defense - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Practice with Full Pads Excites Southern Miss Defense

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One of the fundamental elements of football returns to the Southern Miss practice field on day five of fall camp.

"It's a contact sport," says Southern Miss head football coach Todd Monken. "You've got to go live some of it - you've got to hit."

The team practiced in full pads for the first time during the three week camp.

The sound of pads crunching together particularly amplifies the defensive intensity.

"We did have a tackle period right at the end of practice where I thought our guys got after it pretty good," says Southern Miss defensive coordinator David Duggan.

"It helps us compete," says Southern Miss defensive back Jerrion Johnson. "It helps us bring the best out of each other, and that's what we want to get out of the defense."

But Johnson says he is already pumped up for practice before he puts on the pads.

"I get my mood set before I even come on the field, listening to Coach Monken's inspirational talk," says Johnson. "It's early in the morning - 7:15 in the morning - but it's exciting to get up and just know that you get to go straight to play football."

To keep that fire lit throughout camp, Duggan creates an atmosphere of heightened competition.

"We're having a war," says Johnson. "I'm not going to say the war but we're having a war."

"We've created a little bit of competition for the most strips in practice, the most balls hit in the ground, the most turnovers - so they're all buying in, and it's kind of a big challenge for them and they're getting excited about it," says Duggan.

Buy in is important for the defense, one that ranked 10th in scoring under Tommy West last season.

Duggan applauds his players' efforts thus far, but is not satisfied just yet.

"They're excited about the hard work they put in and they're carrying it through," says Duggan. "They know they're not home yet. They've had a couple phases, but they've really got to start pushing it through."

Johnson plans to do just that in preparation for the team's home opener against Texas State on Aug. 31.

"I think we're getting better, and I just want to keep us taking steps forward," says Johnson.

The team hits the field in full pads again at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

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