Jack Abraham raves about new Southern Miss offensive coordinator, returning talent
THIBODAUX, La. — The pieces are in place.
Few teams in college football will return as much on offense as Southern Miss will for 2019.
All five offensive linemen, headlined by freshman All-America center Trace Clopton are back. The team's two leading rushers from last season, Trivenskey Mosley and Steven Anderson, return, along with the team's five leading receivers, including All-Conference USA standout Quez Watkins.
Quarterback Jack Abraham also returns after completing an FBS-best 73.1 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2018.
Abraham isn't guaranteed his starting role for 2019 yet. He'll compete with rising sophomore Tate Whatley, who threw four touchdowns and rushed for three more in six appearances for the Golden Eagles last season.
With new offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner taking over play-calling duties from departed offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, expect a few cosmetic changes to how Southern Miss' offense will look.
But one thing that's certain? The expectations are high.
"We have a lot of potential," Abraham said Friday from the Manning Passing Academy, where he's serving as a camp counselor. "We've heard that all summer from the coaches. It's our job to go out there and put our product on the field. We've just got to bust our tails this summer and let it all fall."
Faulkner comes to Southern Miss after previous stops as offensive coordinator at Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee State. Over Faulkner's three seasons leading the offense at Arkansas State, his Red Wolves averaged 31.7 points per game. Abraham raved about what Faulkner brings to Southern Miss, describing the new offensive coordinator as smart and cerebral.
Conceptually, Abraham said Faulkner's schemes aren't too different from Dawson's. Some terminology has changed, but otherwise Abraham feels the offense won't be as structurally different as some may expect.
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The same can be said of Abraham's play style. The Oxford native said there are some tweaks to his game that need to be made, but he thinks some of those changes started taking shape toward the end of his first season in Hattiesburg.
"I want to take care of the ball a little bit more, be a little bit more smart," Abraham said. "I think that just comes with experience. I found myself later in the year kind of being smarter with the ball, being better with the situational things. Always staying on top of my mechanics, my footwork. Never slacking on that or getting complacent on that kind of stuff."
Coming off a 6-5 season without a bowl berth, Southern Miss will need improvements from all of its returning offensive players, including Abraham. But having so much offensive talent returning is a great place to start. And it's something Abraham said he notices every time the team laces up for a no-pads scrimmage this summer.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.