By LARRY VAUGHT
It was a night for Shannon Dawson to savor, and former Kentucky coach Hal Mumme knew it.
Dawson was offensive coordinator at UK last year before being fired by coach Mark Stoops. Now he’s at Southern Mississippi and his team scored 34 straight points to come from 25 points behind and beat UK 44-35 in what was devastating loss for Stoops and UK.
Dawson started his coaching career under Mumme.
“Congrats to Jay Hopson, USM and my former brilliant Assistant Shannon Dawson on a great win in the sec. Shannon is the smartest fb coach I’ve known for a great while,” Mumme posted on Facebook immediately after UK’s loss.
Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson was asked when Dawson was saying when they fell behind 35-10.
“We basically were saying the same thing. We talked a lot. We were actually moving the ball. We got in some minus yardage situations early in the first quarter. We got into some 2nd & 15s and that’s something you can’t do, especially against a SEC football team,” Hopson said. “You can’t put yourself behind the sticks and I think we did that a little bit in the first half. That’s one thing in the second half we didn’t do.”
Did it help that Dawson knew UK’s personnel?
“He knows about it because he coached it, but I always felt like that was a loss because they know him too. I don’t think there was any advantage there one way or another,” Hopson said. “At the end of the day you give the credit to the players and the assistant coaches. They did a great job preparing the guys and the players. They played their hearts out. It was a joy to watch.”
Southern Mississippi quarterback Nick Mullens could not praise Dawson enough.
“He is awesome. I love coach Dawson. He is a great coach. We communicate a lot more with the way we get plays in and stuff, but I kind of knew going in, you just have to feel each other out and embrace the change,” Mullens said.
“But, other than that I am so proud of him. He did a great job tonight. The coaches deserve a lot of credit, all the credit in the world. They put us in positions to succeed and so we are thankful for that.”
Several UK players, including receiver Garrett Johnson and lineman Ramsey Meyers, hugged Dawson after the game. So did Stoops, who walked Dawson away from media members to say several things to him near midfield.
Then he offered this after the game.
“They did a heck of a job. That goes without saying. Coach Dawson and all that he’s gone through, I am happy for him. Obviously, I want our team to play better, but he did a heck of a job and they kept us off balance,” Stoops said.
Happy for him? My guess is that UK fans, and hopefully UK fans, were not happy for Dawson. And Stoops did fire him, so not quite sure what he meant that Dawson had “gone through” other than being fired.