By John L. Pitts | NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – There will be plenty of new faces on the field by the time the Mississippi Hound Dogs return for their next indoor pro football home game on March 23.
Head coach Martin Theus said Wednesday that he has cut seven of the players who appeared on the team’s 25-man roster in advance of the March 3 season opener. All but one of those cut players was an indoor football rookie.
“This is a business, it’s not like high school,” Theus said. “You may be in one day and out that night.”
His Hound Dogs fell to 0-2 with a 58-35 loss to the Florida Tarpons in Fort Myers, Fla., last Friday night and visits Lakeland, Fla., on Saturday.
After that, the team will be back at BancorpSouth Arena for a four-game homestand.
“It’s a learning process for most of the guys and a teaching opportunity for me and my staff,” Theus said.
Still looking for more consistency at quarterback, Theus said he’ll give James Patterson (East Mississippi CC) his first start there on Saturday. “Our quarterbacks still need to make more plays,” Theus said.
To help them, Theus is working with a new potential playmaker, 6-foot-5 receiver Rod Jefferson. Regarded as an NFL prospect while at the now- defunct Lambuth University program, Jefferson played high school football at South Panola.
“We’ve got some adjustments to make with new players coming in,” Theus said.
Much of the emphasis for the team this week will be on “playing all four quarters,” the coach added.
The Hound Dogs led 20-13 in their opener before losing 35-30 to the Rome Rampage and trailed only 22-20 at halftime against the Tarpons.
“Most new teams, it takes three or four games to get that common bond,” Theus said. “We’ve got to learn to play two halves, learn to close games when we get the chance.”