SportsFootballSouthern Miss becomes Super Back U

Southern Miss becomes Super Back U

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When everyone thought the Golden Eagles’ football season was over, the “Super Backs” came to the rescue, creating an unforgettable legacy at Southern Miss.

After a 38-14 home blowout to North Texas Nov. 6, the Golden Eagles sat on a seven-game losing streak, marking its longest losing skid since 2013. Injuries plagued Southern Miss’s quarterbacks all season long, which cost us two starters, Trey Lowe and Ty Keyes, early in the season.

The team had ten players take a snap over the season, including former scout quarterback Jake Lange, Tee Webb and even student coach-turned-player Jake Smithhart.

That’s when Head Coach Will Hall put all his chips on the table, placing running back Frank Gore Jr. and defensive back Antavious Willis as primary quarterbacks against UTSA. 

It was a gamble that hit big. Though facing the undefeated UTSA team on the road, Southern Miss nearly upset the Roadrunners thanks to Gore and Willis. 

The game generated a lot of buzz, especially after the depth chart was released with no quarterbacks listed. It instead featured the “Super Backs”.

The “Super Back” itself is not an actual position, but a term used by Hall throughout his coaching stops, where he has similarly used them in his offenses. Hall derived the term from his college head coach at North Alabama, Mark Hudspeth.

However, at Southern Miss, Hall took the experimental offense to the next step, running a system primarily through its backs for the final three games. If the team couldn’t win with its quarterbacks, Hall would win with its other athletes. 

Gore led the Super Back offense, rushing for a combined 193 yards and four touchdowns while also passing for 189 yards on 10 of 15 passes for four touchdowns and one interception.

Head Coach Will Hall goes over a play with “Super Back” Frank Gore Jr.

“The last few games [have] probably been the funniest games I’ve ever played in,” Gore said. “You get snapped the ball every time, that’s the only thing you want as an offensive guy.”

Though Gore then had to recover from an injury in the LA Tech game, it paved the way for freshman running back Dajon Richard to shine. Richard tallied 38 carries in the final two games, rushing over 100 yards each game for a combined 227 yards and a touchdown. 

Willis also joined the fun as the secondary passer and receiver Demarcus Jones took a weight of carries during the three-game period.

Antavious Willis attempts a pass against FIU. (Photo/Sean Smith)

As the buzz grew around Southern Miss’s unconventional offense, so did its success. The Golden Eagles had its best outing in its 37-17 win against FIU to end the season 3-9. 

All the Super Backs combined for a season-high 444 yards. For comparison, the offense averaged 240 yards per game in the five games without its two starting quarterbacks. 

The day and night difference left many wondering if Southern Miss would continue to use the Super Back offense next season. But Hall put an end to fan dreams when he said the team will get a traditional quarterback system as its starters return from injuries. The team also looks to add depth with new recruits and a potential transfer.

“We’re going to play a real quarterback, [and] we’re going to have a quarterback get drafted and play in the NFL. That’s who we are. We want to be a program that develops kids to get in the NFL,” Hall said.

This is obviously the smarter choice, as the program would benefit from the stability of a regular quarterback as opposed to the twelve players it had on its roster this year. 

However, Hall said Gore and the Super Back system will continue to be utilized in the offense, thus continuing the legacy that the Super Backs have already developed in their short time.

And it is an impressive legacy. After only three games, fans dubbed Southern Miss “Super Back U”, making signs and even wearing shirts with the title at the final game. 

The Super Back experience brought life back to the offense and the team’s morale, and that simply can’t be forgotten. Its impact is bound to live beyond this season and will undoubtedly be featured in upcoming games.

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