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#1 2017-09-01 10:57:15 - Southern Miss beat writer weighs in on Golden Eagles' mindset, QB situ

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Southern Miss beat writer weighs in on Golden Eagles' mindset, QB situ

Munzy giving away secrets......... … 616616001/

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- What should Kentucky fans expect when the Wildcats make the rare trip from a Southeastern Conference squad to a Conference USA stadium Saturday at Southern Miss?

The Courier-Journal caught up with Southern Miss beat writer Jason Munz of USA Today Network newspaper the Hattiesburg American to preview the game. See below for his thoughts on the rematch factor, Shannon Dawson's time at Southern Miss, the Golden Eagles' quarterback situation and more.

You can follow Jason on Twitter (@muznly) and at

CJ: After the comeback win a year ago, what’s the confidence level around the program heading into the rematch against Kentucky this season? What kind of crowd should we expect for a rare trip from a Power 5 conference team to a Hattiesburg?

Munz: Beating Kentucky at its place in come-from-behind fashion last year certainly doesn’t hurt Southern Miss’ psyche. The Golden Eagles certainly won’t be intimidated. But that doesn’t mean there’s not still a very healthy level of respect. As far as what the crowd will look like, I would expect it to be in the 25K-28K range. Despite that, though, USM’s crowds typically hold their own in terms of their ability to create a decent home-field advantage.

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CJ: How has Shannon Dawson settled in at Southern Miss after a year in the program? Did his offense live up to expectations?

Munz: Dawson has done well, in my opinion. Year one for him wasn’t perfect and I wouldn’t go so far as to say it lived up to expectations. But, by and large, it was a fairly smooth transition. Highlights include a new school-record for single-game total offense (702 vs. Rice) and 1,918 yards of total offense out of running back Ito Smith.

LISTEN: CatsHQ Podcast | Previewing Kentucky football opener at Southern Miss

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CJ: Star Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens is gone. What is the situation at quarterback heading into the opener?

Munz: Uncertain. The race to replace Mullens is basically down to Kwadra Griggs and Keon Howard. Griggs missed last season due to academic ineligibility, while Howard was pressed into emergency duty as a true freshman, making two starts and appearing in four games. In his time on the field last season, Howard was extremely inconsistent. He threw four interceptions and lost four fumbles, while going 22-of-50 for 365 yards with a touchdown through the air and rushing for 150 yards and two scores. Griggs missed a handful of training camp practices a couple of weeks ago with an injured finger on his throwing hand. Before that, I had Griggs as the frontrunner for the starting gig. Now, it’s anybody’s guess

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