The Golden Eagles, dressed in shorts and helmets today, ended their first fall practice of the year around noon today. This is a big change from the first three years of the Larry Fedora era, as some practices have been moved to the mornings.
There were 105 players to go through camp, and Coach Fedora was pleased with day 1.
“The challenge for them is what we are doing on day 13, day 14 or day 20,” he said.
“Everybody in the country probably had a great day on their first practice, as we did, but now I want to see what happens from this point. If we have that same energy level all the way through, then I know we’ll be special.”
One player expected to be a big contributor along the defensive line is Khyri Thornton.
Last season, he showed flashes of the player coaches think he can become, and he will be looked upon to fill in the shoes of departed Anthony Gray.
Last season, as a redshirt freshman, Thornton saw action in 12 games, and recorded 17 tackles with 5 solo tackles for a loss.
Thornton was pleased with his and his team's effort in day one.
"It feels great," he said. "The first day everyone is really flying around and was getting after it. There was a lot of energy and that is the way it should be. It just felt great to be back on the field."
The big and athletic lineman had an outstanding summer, and is ready to get after opposing quarterbacks this fall.
"My conditioning was the main thing I worked on in summer work-outs," he said. "I went up about 30lbs. in all of my maxes. Power clings, bench, and squat went way up for me, and I think the summer will make a huge difference for us this season."
Thornton was quick to point out the work is paying off for his fellow linemen as well. He expects several to really step up and improve the play of the line.
"Terrance Pope, Cordarro Law, Octavious Thomas, and Andrew Burns are going to give teams fits this year," he said. "Those guys have stepped up because we were really limited with only three defensive linemen in the spring on the field initially."
The new scheme is going to look a little bit different in the way the defensive line approaches its attack.
"We made a couple of changes where we will be roaming around a little more, it gives us more freedom to make plays," he said. "We'll still be going after the quarterback like we always have but sometimes we'll be doing some more roaming than we have in the past."
Southern Miss returns to practice tomorrow from 9:45-12:00, followed by media day later that afternoon.