Will Kwadra Griggs return to the starting lineup for Southern Mississippi this weekend?

The former Greenwood High School standout quarterback lost his starting role a couple of weeks ago primarily due to a hand injury. Since then, Keon Howard led the Golden Eagles to wins over UTSA and UTEP.

Southern Miss coaches didn’t provide an answer to the quarterback question Monday during the team’s weekly press conference.

“Competition makes the world go round,” second-year head coach Jay Hopson said. “We’ll watch them and see how it goes this week.

“We’re always going to watch that (competition) close. We’re always going to compete.”

Griggs, who led the Golden Eagles to wins over Southern and Louisiana-Monroe, suffered a left hand injury and has not played the past two games. He has completed 66 of 123 passes (53.7 percent) for 951 yards and eight touchdowns. He has thrown one interception.

Howard, a sophomore, has completed 43 of 70 passes (61.4 percent) for 591 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has thrown two interceptions.

Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said Griggs has been practicing. And he noted that one quarterback is not enough.

“Look at last year — you need to have a couple that can play because the game is getting more and more physical,” Dawson said. “You saw it (Sunday) with Green Bay (when Aaron Rodgers was hurt), you never know when freak things are going to happen. Having guys ready is crucial.”

Starting for the fifth time as a Golden Eagle and the third time this season, Howard regressed in last week’s win against the Miners. He threw two interceptions and fumbled once, while completing 16-of-27 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 30 yards.

Howard’s turnover problems have been well documented. In five starts, Howard has thrown six interceptions and lost seven fumbles (he’s fumbled nine times total).

USM (4-2, 2-1 in Conference USA) will need to take care of the ball against Louisiana Tech, which enjoyed a bye last week. The Bulldogs have lost two of their last three — both by one point.

Limping in at 1-1 in league play and with North Texas unexpectedly sitting at 3-0 atop the Western Division at the halfway point, the margin for error for Louisiana Tech (3-3) has shrunk to a game of centimeters while amplifying the degree of importance in results over the next few weeks.

It starts Saturday night when the Bulldogs host rival Southern Miss for the 49th installment of the “Rivalry in Dixie” matchup at 6 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium.

“We have to look at it like this game is for the West Division,” said Tech head football coach Skip Holtz at his weekly press conference Tuesday.

nContact Bill Burrus at 581-7237 or bburrus@gwcommonwealth.com.

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