Five takeaways from Southern Miss-LA Tech

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Neil McLaurin runs in a touchdown Photo by: Brad Crowe

1. Abraham looked solid in return from injury

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jack Abraham made his return from injury against the Bulldogs, seeing his first action since the third quarter of the team’s loss to Charlotte on Oct.27. Abraham looked extremely efficient in the first half, completing 16-of-19 passes and a 49-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Neil McLaurin at the 10:32 mark in the second quarter. Abraham finished the game by completing 24-of-29 passes for 195 yards. Abraham’s performance in the contest also propelled him to the top spot for completion percentage among FBS quarterbacks.

2. Whatley and Abraham both see time at quarterback

Freshman quarterback Tate Whatley, who started in place of Abraham for the Marshall and UAB contests, still received playing time against the Bulldogs. In fact, Whatley took the first snap at quarterback against LA Tech while Abraham lined out wide. Whatley received playing time occasionally during the game, including on the team’s go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. The freshman finished the game by completing 2-of-2 passes for 31 yards, while also gaining 15 yards on the ground. It is a small sample size, but do not be surprised if Whatley appears in similar packages against UTEP this week.

3. LA Tech miscue helps Southern Miss

In the third quarter, LA Tech kicker Bailey Hale missed a 29-yard field goal at the 4:09 mark. While Southern Miss turned the ball over via a fumble on the ensuing offensive possession and Hale responded with another field goal in the fourth quarter to make it a 20-14 game, the miss prevented LA Tech from expanding its lead further and allowed Southern Miss to eventually retake the lead on a Steven Anderson rushing touchdown with 6:02 left to play. Those three missed points proved to be the difference in the game, as Southern Miss held on for the 21-20 win.

4. Bowl eligibility prospects look brighter

As most college football fans know, reaching six wins is the magic number to reach bowl eligibility. In my opinion piece following the Charlotte loss, I talked about how the prospects for bowl eligibility looked tough, especially with Marshall, UAB and LA Tech still on the schedule. However, Southern Miss finished that stretch with a 2-1 record, and the team sports a 5-5 record heading into the regular season finale against a 1-9 UTEP squad. UTEP should not be written off, as they have played in close games all season, especially against LA Tech and North Texas.

Still, the Miners are 1-10 on the year and are coming off of a 40-16 blowout loss to Western Kentucky, who also had one loss heading into the matchup. Anything can happen on any given Saturday, but the Golden Eagles’ prospects for six wins look much brighter following the win over LA Tech.

5. The past four seasons have been memorable

As a senior who graduates next May, this was my final home football game at M.M. Roberts Stadium as a student and reporter for the Student Printz. In my four years at Southern Miss, I have had the amazing opportunity to watch and interact with current NFL players who got their start at Southern Miss, along with former Southern Miss greats of years past. The opportunities I have had to cover the program have made me a better writer and have prepared me for my professional career. It is certainly going to be odd to be away from “The Rock” and my game day routine by the time next season rolls around.