By The Associated Press
HATTIESBURG — Fourth-year starter Austin Davis threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns as the Black, made up mostly of first string players, defeated the Gold 45-10 in the Southern Miss spring game on Saturday.
Davis completed 28 of his 32 passes for 326 yards, three touchdowns and an interception on a tipped pass. Running backs Desmond Johnson and Jamal Woodyard combined to rush for 230 yards and three touchdowns.
“I thought it went well,” Davis said. “I think the biggest things we focused on was pushing the tempo, playing fast, playing hard and limiting our mistakes. I think we had one interception, but for the most part we didn’t turn the ball over and we did the things we set out to do.”
With last year’s rushing leader Kendrick Hardy sidelined with a tweaked hamstring, Woodyard stole the show.
On his touchdown Saturday, he took a handoff from Davis on the left side, couldn’t find a hole, reversed the field and ended up out-running the entire defense. He scored standing up just inside the right pylon.
“He’s like a little Reggie Bush back there,” wide receiver Kelvin Bolden said. “He can do a little bit of everything, but he can always make that first guy miss. He’s going to get some carries, but I don’t know what we’re going to have to do to give all these guys the touches they deserve.”
The Gold offense, stagnant at times, was led by redshirt freshman Arsenio Favor and third-year sophomore Chris Campbell, who alternated possessions at quarterback.
The duo came into Saturday battling for chance to back up Davis next season.
Campbell completed nine of 14 passes for 105 yards, an interception and the Gold’s lone touchdown, a 35-yard floater over the middle of the field to Markese Triplett. Favor finished 7-of-14 for 42 yards and an interception.
“Both of those guys did some nice things,” Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora said. “I thought Chris did a good job of managing in the offense and made some good throws, and Arsenio has been begging me to put him in a normal jersey so he can run because that’s a big part of his game. He wasn’t going to win that one, though.”
On a day when neither defense blitzed much or got too far away from new defensive coordinator Dan Disch’s basic 4-2-5 scheme, the first-string defense held the second-string offense to 169 yards of offense on 54 plays.
Playing from his new “bandit” position, Jamie Collins led the defense with eight stops and forced a fumble with a big hit on Darrell Sanders in the third quarter.
Defensive end Cordarro Law sacked Campbell twice and Favor once, and tackle Terrance Pope added two sacks and broke up two passes.
“I think overall we played pretty well,” Law said. “We’ve got to find a way to consistently get off the field quicker, but we have a chance to be outstanding this year, because our scheme allows our guys to get out there and use our individual skills to make a play, whether its coming off the edge to get pressure or dropping back and locking a man down.”
Fedora indicated Saturday was just a glimpse of what the defense is capable of, and said he expects them to be much improved over last season, when they ranked 47th in the country after allowing just over 356 yards a game.
“It was vanilla,” Fedora said. “But it was vanilla on both sides. But I saw some good things. There was some hitting going on down there. I don’t know what it looked like from (the stands), but there were some running backs getting popped pretty good out there.”
Southern Miss will wrap up spring camp with a final practice Monday afternoon.