Southern Miss has first spring game under Monken

By The Associated Press

HATTIESBURG — Cole Weeks completed 26 of 41 passes for 310 yards at Southern Mississippi’s spring game on Saturday afternoon.

The junior is one of several quarterbacks competing for the starting job as coach Todd Monken prepares for his first season with the Golden Eagles. Redshirt freshman Kyle Sloter completed 13 of 23 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown.

The Black team beat the Gold team 29-3 in the game that was played at Petal High School. Southern Miss moved the game because of damage to Roberts Stadium after a February tornado.

Rickey Bradley caught seven passes for 130 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown.

Jalen Richard led both teams with 25 yards rushing on four carries. Weeks had four carries for 18 yards and a touchdown.

Monken comes to Southern Miss after two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were known for their high-scoring, high-tempo offense under the 47-year-old Monken and now he’s trying to implement the same system with the Golden Eagles.

Some days have been better than others, but Monken said he was pleased with the program’s progress.

“With 15 practices, you’re just trying to get to where you play good football,” Monken said. “That’s really what you’re trying to do. Get the guys to play hard and understand assignments and alignment. That’s really what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Southern Miss is trying to recover from a disastrous 0-12 season in 2012. The Golden Eagles fired coach Ellis Johnson after just one season and tabbed Monken to lead a quick turnaround.

One of the immediate goals is to find a starting quarterback. Sophomore Ricky Lloyd and senior Chris Campbell are also in the mix for the job if they can return from injuries that kept them out of Saturday’s game.

Monken said Weeks and Sloter did a good job considering all of the changes.

“Those guys did as well as I could have expected,” Monken said. “Sometimes it’s hard to evaluate because so many guys are learning so many different things. Sometimes it’s the quarterbacks who mess up, but sometimes it’s a receiver or an offensive lineman. We’re all learning together.”

Southern Miss won’t have much time to ease into the Monken era next fall. The Golden Eagles have a three-game road stretch against Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State in September.

“Every team has some positives and every team has some negatives,” Monken said. “We certainly have some of both. We’re just like everyone else — we’re going to have to play to our strengths and then work on our weaknesses so that they don’t hurt us too much.”