HATTIESBURG, Miss. - If asked to chart a more perfect day for his first spring scrimmage, first-year head coach Todd Monken would have a hard time describing anything other than the day his team got on Friday as they worked out for just under two hours at Petal High.
With perfect spring temperatures settling into the Hub City, Monken's squad worked at a feverish pace to install their new offensive and defensive schemes in preparation for the 2013-14 season, and again, the coach was more than pleased with the effort of his squad.
"I'm telling you - and I mean this sincerely - we're getting everything (we can) out of our guys," Monken said. "Are we there mentally yet? No, but from an emotional standpoint and wanting to be better, we're getting that. I couldn't be happier of our guys and the way they've approached every day."
As is the norm across most college campuses this time of year, the defense looked to be just a step ahead of the offense on this day, but Monken said that was to be expected as the team went through its ninth practice of the spring campaign.
"We have (long way) to go in terms of execution," added Monken following the scrimmage. "Offensively, what you can't do is have self-inflicted wounds. We had false starts, missed assignments, things that give you no chance to have success. Those kinds of things you can't have. It's a pretty simple formula. There are flashes though - there are (big plays) all over."
Another reason the defense is expected to be a step ahead is it returns nine of 11 starters from 2012, headlined by linemen Khyri Thornton and Rakeem Nunez-Roches.
"Defensively, we're a little bit more experienced," Monken noted. "But, believe me, that's a good thing. You're frustrated from an offensive stand point, but I'm excited about things defensively. The effort and energy are there. Now, we just have to do it better."
Southern Miss will have the weekend off to rest and recuperate before returning to the field on Tuesday. Practices are open to the public but require a valid ID to gain access. Phones, cameras and notepads are prohibited during the session.