Griggs back on practice field, Hopson says QB battle is underway


For the first time, redshirt senior quarterback Kwadra Griggs and redshirt sophomore Jack Abraham were on the same field together throwing the football. They shared reps throwing to receivers and different targets, as Southern Miss opened up fall camp Friday morning.

All eyes were on the quarterbacks.

Abraham transferred into the program prior in the spring, while Griggs sat out spring practice due to a foot injury. Both are battling for the starting role for the Golden Eagles, and the two quarterbacks had their fair share of reps.

Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson didn’t shy away from saying there was a battle at the quarterback position.

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“I believe in competition. I just do,” Hopson said. “I just think you have to come back in and compete. That’s one of the tough things when you do get injured. You open up windows. I don’t care if you’re the NFL or if you’re in Pop Warner. That’s why guys are always trying to take care of their bodies and stay healthy, especially when you get to the pros. You’re sitting in the tub and another guy comes in and gets an opportunity. If he does good, all of the sudden you have a battle on your hands.

“I think that’s the tough thing whenever you’re injured. You’re sitting out there and another guy is getting those reps and he’s getting a chance to prove himself. Competition is good.”

It was tough for Griggs to sit out in the spring. He battled former Southern Miss quarterback Keon Howard prior to the 2017 season, so Howard and Abraham, along with redshirt freshman Marcelo Rodriguez, battled in the spring. Howard transferred to Tulane, leaving a three-quarterback race with less than a month until the season-opener against Jackson State.

“It feels good to be out here with the team,” Griggs said. “It was really tough (missing spring). My teammates talked me and they kept me going, kept me pushing and made sure I was doing the right things on and off the field.”

Griggs spent the summer months getting his foot stronger and watching a lot of film, he added. His foot bothered him last year, but since his surgery, he said it feels a lot better now.

Now that he’s healthy, he’s hoping his experience benefits him in practice.

“All experience is good experienced,” he said. “It helps me just keeping going, keep pushing, stay tough and just never get complacent.”

Griggs started seven games for Southern Miss last season, missing five straight starts midseason due to a hand injury. He finished the season with 1,879 yards, 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions on a 56 percent completion rate. While his touchdown to interception ratio was great, he wants to improve his completion percentage in 2018. That’s all about mechanics, he says.

Nipping at his heels is Abraham, a Northwest Mississippi Community College transfer, who threw for 2,949 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 11 games last season. The 6-foot quarterback had the pleasure of working with the team in the spring, which is a big confidence booster.

“I just feel a lot more confident with the plays,” he said. “I know where I’m going, I know the reads and I know the ins and outs. I just feel a lot more confident where I’m going with the ball.”

Abraham is ready for the competition now that Griggs is back on the field, too.

“We have to compete and that’s how it is everywhere,” Abraham said. “I love it. It’s what you sign up for and it’s what you play the game for – to compete. I’m really excited to compete with him and Marcelo. It’s going to be a fun camp, for sure.”