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CFN Take: Southern Miss Takes It Out On UAB
Posted Nov 30, 2013

Southern Miss Golden Eagles 2013 ... Head Coach: Todd Monken

Southern Miss Golden Eagles

2013 Record: 1-11
8/31 Texas State L 22-15
9/7 at Nebraska L 56-13
9/14 at Arkansas L 24-3
9/28 at Boise State L 60-7
10/5 FIU L 24-23
10/19 at East Carolina L 55-14
10/26 North Texas L 55-14
11/2 at Marshall L 61-13
11/9 at Louisiana Tech L 36-13
11/16 Florida Atlantic L 41-7
11/23 Middle Tenn L 42-21
11/30 at UAB W 62-27
Southern Miss 62, at UAB 27
Basically … Southern Miss got its first win of the year by capitalizing on a sloppy day from UAB, exploding for 49 second half points with Nick Mullens finishing with five touchdown passes to five different receivers and Kendrick Hardy running for two scores. UAB moved the ball, but it turned the ball over five times with four fumbles. UAB’s Jonathan Perry threw two touchdown passes to Jamarcus Nelson from 48 and 21 yards away.
- UAB turned it over five times and committed 11 penalties for 98 yards
- Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens completed 24-of-39 passes for 370 yards and five scores with a pick
- Southern Miss RB Kendrick Hardy ran 20 times for 106 yards and two scores.
- UAB WR Jamarcus Nelson caught five passes for 117 yards and two scores.

at Louisiana Tech 36, Southern Miss 13
Basically … Louisiana Tech tore open the game in the second half with 20 straight points with short touchdown runs from Hunter Lee and Kenneth Dixon after taking the early lead on two Scotty Young touchdown passes and a safety. Southern Miss didn’t get into the end zone until there were 56 seconds to play on an eight-yard Kyle Sloter catch.
- Louisiana Tech RB Kenneth Dixon ran 25 times for 207 yards and a score.
- Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens completed 25-of-51 passes for 298 yards and a score with three picks.
- USM turned it over four times and was outgained 311 rushing yards to 59.
- Louisiana Tech QB Scotty Young completed 22-of-37 passes for 158 yards and two scores.

at Marshall 61, Southern Mississippi 13, Nov. 2
Basically … Marshall QB Rakeem Cato threw four touchdowns passes in the first quarter and a total of five in the first half to lead the way in a rout of Southern Mississippi. The Thundering Herd jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Golden Eagles got an 81-yard touchdown pass and a 39-yard field goal to cut into the lead. A strike to Tommy Shuler at the end of the first half gave Marshall all the momentum it needed to cruise to victory with three rushing touchdowns in the second half.
- Cato was 21-of-28 for 262 yards and five touchdowns in a little more than a half of action.
- Southern Mississippi QB Nick Mullens completed 24-of-48 passes for 323 yards, a score and an interception.
- Marshall had two 100-yard rushers, gaining 304 yards on the ground.
- Southern Mississippi had 13 penalties for 76 yards.

FIU 24, at Southern Miss 23
Basically … FIU got a 27-yard Austin Taylor field goal in the fourth quarter for the lead, and the defense held on as Southern Miss suffered through four turnovers in a tough loss. Allan Bridgford hooked up with Markese Triplett for two scores, and Jalen Richard caught a 39-yard touchdown pass, but FIU kept pace with two scores from Silas Spearman III and a T.J. Lowder touchdown grab in the first half.
- After the debacle in Louisville, FIU found an offense in freshman running back Silas Spearman III. He ran 29 times for 136 yards and two scores, taking the ball out of the hands of the quarterbacks. Jake Medlock and E.J. Hilliard combined to complete 12-of-23 passes for 181 yards and a score with two picks, but this was all Spearman.
- This was the big chance for Southern Miss to break the 16-game losing streak, now 17. The Golden Eagles make way too many key mistakes, with four turnovers not only stalling drives, but at times turning into points. Allen Bridgeford threw 45 times for 243 yards and three scores, but he gave away two picks, lost a fumble, and he didn’t push the ball down the field.

at Boise State 60 … Southern Miss 7
Basically … Boise State got up 10-0 before Southern Miss scored on a five-yard Marquise Ricard touchdown catch. That was it for the fun. The Broncos cranked out 50 unanswered points with the offense humming on all cylinders. Shane William-Rhodes scored twice and Joe Southwick finished with three scoring passes.
- There wasn’t any problem after the loss to Fresno State. The Broncos came up with one of their sharpest performances of the season against a vastly inferior opponent – there was no messing around. It was an okay first quarter, and then everything clicked at once.
- Southern Miss simply doesn’t have the firepower. There’s still no downfield passing game, and while the ground game wasn’t bad, it had to be abandoned early on after the Broncos got rolling.
- Joe Southwick completed 19-of-23 passes for 268 yards and three scores. He got al the time he wanted to work, and he did whatever he wanted. The backups came in and combined to go 4-for-4 for 48 yards.
- The USM defense couldn’t get off the field. Boise State was taking target practice, converting on 11-of-16 third down chances and not sweating a lick after the first quarter. The Golden Eagles need to find something it can do well on a consistent basis on both sides of the ball.

at Arkansas 24, Southern Miss 3, Sept. 14
Basically … The Arkansas running game rumbled for 258 yards with Brandon Allen starting off the scoring on a five-yard dash, and Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins adding second half touchdown runs of 45 and seven yards, respectively. A mistake-prone Southern Miss managed just 254 yards of total offense with a 27-yard Corey Acosta field goal.
- Southern Miss isn’t good enough to keep shooting itself in the foot. There wasn’t much offense from the Golden Eagles, and it didn’t help that the O had a nightmare of a time converting on third downs and Allan Bridgeford threw two picks. The team committed ten penalties.
- Brandon Allen might have run for a touchdown for an early Hog score, but he injured his shoulder on the play. It doesn’t appear to be anything serious, but AJ Derby showed he could step in and produce, or at least hand the ball off over and over again.
- Alex Collins has been fantastic. Not only did the young Hog star run for 115 yards and a score, but he became the first freshman in SEC history to run for 100 yards in each of his first three games. Jonathan Williams continues to be fantastic, too.
- What does Southern Miss have offensively to count on? Jalen Richard did what he could with 94 yards on just 14 carries, but that was the only positive on offense. Bridgeford’s passing didn’t move the chains.

at Nebraska 56, Southern Miss 13, Sept. 7
Basically … The Huskers scored early and often in a rout of visiting Southern Miss. Nebraska was balanced on offense, led by Taylor Martinez's three touchdown passes and Ameer Abdullah's two scoring runs, while the defense returned two of its four interceptions for touchdowns
- As long as Martinez is distributing the ball with consistency, there aren't many opponents on the schedule who'll stop this Nebraska attack. Abdullah looks good for 100 yards whenever he gets at least 15 carries.
- It's going to be another long year in Hattiesburg for many reasons, but mostly because new head coach Todd Monken doesn't have a reliable quarterback. Cal transfer Allan Bridgford has looked lost so far, throwing three of the team's four picks on Saturday.
- Sure, it was Southern Miss, but Nebraska head coach has to be happy with his beleaguered D's performance this week. The Blackshirts played with passion, making a dozen stops for loss to go with those four interceptions.
- Huskers DE Randy Gregory has a ton of potential as a pass rusher. But, after turning none of his pressures into sacks, the sophomore has to do a better job of finishing.

Texas State 22, at Southern Miss 15, Aug. 31
Basically … Texas State forced six turnovers with Craig Mager taking a fumble 44 yards for a touchdown to open up the scoring, but the offense didn’t go anywhere. Southern Miss scored 15 straight points to take a one point lead, helped by a six-yard James Cox touchdown catch, but Texas State was able to rally with a 17-yard scoring run from Tyler Arndt for the game winner with under three minutes to play.
- Offense bad, defense good. Texas State’s attack went absolutely nowhere with only 81 yards of rushing production and little pop to the passing game. However, the defense did the heavy lifting with all of the takeaways to overcome a shaky day from the secondary.
- There’s hope for Southern Miss. After a disastrous 2012, the Eagles should’ve blown away the Bobcats by 20, but four fumbles and two tough picks killed the day. There wasn’t any USM running game, but Allen Bridgford bombed away. Again, there’s hope.
- The Golden Eagle defense did its job. It was attacking, aggressive and effective. The offense put it in too many bad positions.
- David Mayo came up with a nice day for the Bobcats with six tackles, a sack and two picks. This was a total team effort to help USM screw up.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … Ellis Johnson is gone. The Golden Eagles made the irregular move of canning a rookie head coach, but it was well-deserved. The program slogged through its worst season in school history, failing to win a game. The administration believes it has exorcised its 2012 demons with the hiring of Todd Monken, a young and energetic first-time head coach, with the offensive ingenuity to revive a disgruntled fan base.

Why To Be Grouchy … USM went 0-12 last year for reasons that transcended just the coaching staff; the personnel wasn’t all that impressive either. The Eagles don’t bring back much ready-made talent because, well, there weren’t any stars with which to work a year ago. The situation is particularly concerning at quarterback, where five different players combined to throw nine touchdown passes. And the one with the highest ceiling, true freshman Anthony Alford, has already transferred to Ole Miss.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … developing a pecking order at quarterback. Naturally, Monken is going to need a capable distributor for his offensive system to have a shot of clicking. In all likelihood, he would have been tutoring Alford this spring, but that plan was revised without much warning. Instead, the staff will attempt to elevate the play of the three remaining scholarship hurlers, senior Chris Campbell, sophomore Ricky Lloyd and redshirt freshman Kyle Sloter.

Non-Conference Games: Texas State, at Nebraska, at Arkansas, at Boise State
Games Against the West: at Louisiana Tech, North Texas
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 4-8
Likely Finish: 5-7

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Texas State, FIU, North Texas, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Nebraska, at Arkansas, at Boise State, at East Carolina, at Marshall, at Louisiana Tech, at UAB

Schedule Analysis: After last season’s disaster, it’s time to show that things have changed. That’s going to be tough early on with road games at Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State after starting out against Texas State. It won’t help to go on the road three times in four weeks in the middle of the season with dates at East Carolina, Marshall and Louisiana Tech around a home game against North Texas. Fortunately, there are three games against the former Sun Belt members that should help the record. Finishing up against Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee will help before closing out at UAB.

Team Concerns For 2013: Winning. There's way, way too much talent to be 2012 bad again, but there's still a long way to go. The Golden Eagles couldn't come up with a victory last year, so Step One for Todd Monken is to simply get a win to get the monkey off the program's back. Just about every area needs to improve beginning with replacing seven starters on an offense that finished dead last in the league in scoring. Mistakes were a major issue finishing 115th in the nation in turnover margin thanks to a defense that couldn't come up with enough takeaways.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Offensive linemen. Defensive tackle Dylan Bradley is undersized, but he might be the most talented player being brought in. However, 320-pound JUCO transfer Fredrick Moore should be able to step in and find a role immediately while Devin Farrior should be a steady starter after a few years in the weight room. The interior wasn't ignored with James Davis a potentially strong guard once he packs on some more muscle.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 68. That Class Was Heavy On ... The offensive backfield. New head coach Ellis Johnson doesn’t necessarily need quarterback and running back options for right now, and the skill spots were addressed over the last two recruiting classes, but that doesn’t mean that more options wouldn’t be nice. Arsenio Favor is the top quarterback option going into next year, but Anthony Alford is one of the nation’s top prospects and good enough to push for the starting job. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 77. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. The Golden Eagles brought in a ton of players after going for the quick JUCO fix last year, and while the lines are getting plenty of work and JUCO corners Clifford Johnson and Martez Thompson will see time right away, this class is about lots and lots of pass-catching prospects, including tight end Collin Jarbo. JUCO transfer Jhyrtn Taylor is is the best receiver of the bunch, but speedy Tray Becton and Cooper Harrington could make a bigger impact before they’re through.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 56. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. Head coach Larry Fedora went big on JUCO transfers last year, and he got a few instant helpers this season with CB Reggie Hunt and massive offensive tackles Lamar Holmes and Jason Weaver certain to be in the rotation immediately, but mostly the Golden Eagle class is setting up the future for the offense. Two quarterbacks, four running backs, and four receivers were signed with JUCO transfer Kelvin Bolden a potential instant impact player at one wideout spot and Markese Triplett a big 6-4 target to build around for the future.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 61. That Class Was Heavy On ... JUCO transfers. His program headed in the right direction, Larry Fedora sought out players capable of keeping the momentum going right now. A league-high six junior-college players, four on offense and two of defense, will help fill in the holes at tight end, linebacker, and offensive tackle. LB Hendrick Leverette is already being counted on to offset Gerald McRath’s departure, and 6-5, 265-pound David Rue is angling to catch some of the passes that used to go to Shawn Nelson.

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