#56 Southern Miss Football Preview

Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Overall Rank: #56
#2 Conference USA

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2010 Record: (8-5, 5-3)
2010 Bowl: Beef O’Brady’s Bowl vs. Louisville (31-28 L)
Coach: Larry Fedora (22-17 at Southern Miss, 22-17 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Blake Anderson
Defensive Coordinator: Dan Disch

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kendrick Hardy, RB, 903 yards
Passing: Austin Davis, QB, 3,103 yards
Receiving: Kevin Bolden, WR, 722 yards
Tackles: Korey Williams, LB, 73
Sacks: Cordarro Law, DE, 6
Interceptions: Deron Wilson, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees:  OG Joe Duhon, LT Lamar Holmes, RT Thomas Edenfield, WR Quentin Pierce, RB Desmond Johnson, CB Deron Wilson, LB Ronnie Thornton, DT Khyri Thornton,  FS, Jacorius CottonK Danny Hrapmann

Key Losses:  WR DeAndre Brown, OG Alex Michael, C Cameron Zipp, TE Johdrick Morris,  RB V.J. Floyd, NT John Henderson, DT Anthony Gray, LB Martez Smith

Coach Larry Fedora has continued to build on a tradition of excellence at Southern Miss. With nine straight bowl appearances he has brought, as advertised, a highly explosive offensive scheme that fans in Hattiesburg definitely enjoy on a weekly basis win or lose. The Eagles are on a mission to get their first championship in the divisional format of Conference USA.

Quarterback Austin Davis brings senior leadership and is the cog to the Golden Eagle offense.  He has all the tools you want in a championship quarterback. He leads, does not turn the ball over and finds a way to get the ball to his playmakers on offense. The stability of the offensive line, with the return of Joe Duhon, Lamar Holmes and Thomas Edenfield, brings a high level of continuity to a complex offensive scheme. Defensively, Cordarro Law brings a wealth of experience and should be turned loose coming off the edge in the new defensive scheme.   This should allow for Law to make a run at double figure sack totals potentially doubling his six sacks from the 2010 season. In the kicking game, Danny Hrapmann gives Coach Larry Fedora a nice security blanket in close games as Hrapmann led Conference USA in scoring in 2010. He also was 26 for 31 in field goals as well.

It starts in the secondary; Southern Miss gave up way too many big plays that cost them games last season. They can’t give up similar yardage numbers even in a pass happy league like Conference USA. In 2010 the Golden Eagles allowed 243.4 yards per game so a good goal would be about 200-210 yards per contest.  Also with the lack of starting experience on the defensive line with only Cordarro Law returning, guys like Khyri Thornton are going to be relied upon heavily to step up and help reestablish a very stout control of the line of scrimmage that Southern Miss defense have been known for over the years. Offensively, the Golden Eagles will need to have an increased level of production from the receiving core to offset the loss of DeAndre Brown to the NFL.

The Bottom Line:
The schedule is not daunting at all out of conference with Louisiana Tech and SE Louisiana at home and a winnable BCS road game at ACC opponent Virginia. The ability to adjust to new defensive coordinator Dan Disch’s 4-2-5 scheme will be a critical element in how far the Golden Eagles will go this season. They lost too many shootouts last year to East Carolina, UAB and Tulsa. Thus, with UCF in the same division as Southern Miss, they are going to have to be able to get off the field defensively so their high-octane offense can work its magic and light up the scoreboard. Coach Larry Fedora has this program rolling.  Now it is time for all the pieces to be put together and secure a championship and there are a lot of pieces in place to make a run in 2011 for a Conference USA Championship.

Projected Bowl:  Armed Forces Bowl

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 200.9 (20th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 252.5 (35, 6)
Total Offense: 453.4(18, 3)
Scoring Offense: 36.9(15, 3)
Rushing Defense: 113.0(13, 2)
Pass Defense: 243.4(99, 7)
Total Defense: 356.4(47, 3)
Scoring Defense: 29.5 (81, 5)
Turnover Margin: +0.69 (20, 2)
Sacks: 2.08 (60, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (24, 5)

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