Abraham in line to start at quarterback for USM

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Through defections, suspensions, attrition and some solid play, Jack Abraham appears to have risen to the top of Southern Miss’ quarterback depth chart.

Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson didn’t officially name Abraham the starter during his weekly press conference on Monday, but did say he’s ahead of the dwindling pack heading into Saturday’s season opener against Jackson State.

Abraham entered the offseason in a four-way battle with returning starters Kwadra Griggs and Keon Howard, and redshirt freshman Marcelo Rodriguez.

Jack Abraham

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Howard left the program in July and Griggs was indefinitely suspended in early August. Abraham, a junior transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College, has gotten most of the first-team snaps since then. He went 13-for-29 for 127 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception, in the team’s last scrimmage.

Hopson said Abraham has continued to perform well since then. Abraham and Rodriguez are both listed as starters on the official depth chart, however.

“He’s had a good week, week and a half, so he’s a little ahead,” Hopson said. “He’s done a good job executing the offense. He’s very cerebral, he’s done what we’ve asked him to do. He’s thrown the ball extremely well. I do think we have talented quarterbacks. There’s a possibility you could see more than one for sure. With where we are right now today, he gets the nod.”

Southern Miss started the offseason with eight quarterbacks on the roster. Six of them, including Griggs, are still there but Abraham and Rodriguez are the only two vying for meaningful playing time.
Whether it’s Abraham or Rodriguez, this will be the fifth different starting quarterback in a season opener for Southern Miss since the start of the 2012 season. Only Nick Mullens (2014, 2015 and 2016) started more than one opener.

“We went from a crowded room with some experience to not crowded pretty quick,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson told the Hattiesburg American. “But I will say I think we’re better around the quarterback. I preach this all the time, especially with that position: Quarterback is a very dependent position. If you go out there and let the players around you do their job, manage the game and make some plays here and there, I think you’ll be fine.”

A veteran offensive line led by former St. Aloysius star Drake Dorbeck will help protect whoever is behind the center. Hopson said a large number of returning players will give the Golden Eagles some depth and versatility up front.

“We’re getting a little deeper, but we’re almost the same unit we were last year but with a little more experience,” Hopson said. “We have some numbers we can move around, but we just want to stay healthy on the offensive line. We’re deeper than we were.”

Saturday, 6 p.m.
TV: None. The game will be streamed online on ESPN Plus.
Radio: 105.1 FM

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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