#52 Southern Miss Football 2012 Preview

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles  

2012 Overall Rank #52
# 3 Conference USA  
Southern Miss College Football 2012 Team Preview
Southern Miss Team Page


Southern Mississippi had a fantastic season, despite their early season loss to Marshall. After that week two debacle they reeled off eight straight wins before falling in a thriller to UAB. They ended their season on a three game winning streak, including their bowl victory over Nevada and their signature upset victory over Houston on the road. They are looking to carry the momentum from the 2011 season into 2012.  

2011 Record: (12-2 Overall, 7-2 Conference)
2011 Bowl: Hawaii Bowl VS Nevada (W 24-17)
Coach: Ellis Johnson (0-0 at Southern Mississippi, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Buckley
Defensive Coordinator: Tommy West

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jamal Woodyard, RB, 766
Passing: Arsenio Favor, QB, 8 yards
Receiving: Tracy Lampley, WR, 574
Tackles: Jacorius Cotton, LB, 54
Sacks: Jamie Collins, DL, 6.5
Interceptions: Deron Wilson, DB, 4

Other Key Returnees:   RB Kendrick Hardy, FB Bruce Johnson, RB Jeremy Hester, WR Dominique Sullivan, DL Khyre Thornton

Key Losses:  WR Ryan Balentine, WR Kelvin Bolden, DL Cordarro Law, QB Austin Davis

The Golden Eagles boasted one of the strongest offensive units in the nation a season ago. Their balanced attack kept defenses on their heels and made it difficult to be stopped. They racked up over 460 yards per game. This season, despite losing several skill players, the Eagles will once again rely on their balanced attack to beat opponents. Running back Jamal Woodyard will be relied on heavily and looks up to the task as he has had one more year to mature. He should help them break in their new signal caller. They also played outstanding on special teams, which pushed them over the edge and allowed them to win 12 games. This will be a key in their 2012 campaign.

The Golden Eagles passing attack may struggle next season, as they are losing their signal caller and many of their key wide receivers. There may a learning curve in 2012 before they start making progress. Either way it is unlikely they will have as much success through the air as they did last season. Additionally their pass defense allowed too many yards a season ago, which needs to be shored up in order to have a chance to win their conference next season. Lastly, they struggled generating turnovers and creating them, resulting in a negative .14 turnover margin, which ranked 73rd in the nation. That should be one of their off-season priorities because it is difficult to win games with a negative turnover margin. If they can have a positive turnover margin they will have a chance to be as successful as they were a season ago, despite losing all their key skill players.

The Bottom Line:
Southern Mississippi is a talented team that will be right in the thick of things in Conference USA. They will have a very balanced offense and will cause opponents fits during the season.  Their offense will carry them to many victories but the defense will need to step up in order to push them over the edge. They will continue to be successful under Ellis Johnson.

Projected Bowl: Hawaii Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 205.14 (20th in the nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 256.21 (34, 4)
Total Offense: 461.36 (17, 2)
Scoring Offense: 36.86 (14, 2)
Rushing Defense: 118.57 (24, 3)   
Pass Defense: 224.43 (62, 5)
Total Defense: 343.00 (29, 3)
Scoring Defense: 20.79 (26, 2)    
Turnover Margin: -.14 (73, 5)  
Sacks:  1.93 (58, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.21 (22,1)

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#119 Anthony Alford