Golden Eagles aim for first conference win
Southern Miss opens their conference schedule Saturday when they host North Texas (0-3) Saturday in the schools’ tenth meeting.
Last season, the Golden Eagles bested the Mean Green 30-20 in Denton, Texas. Jalen Richard, Nick Mullens and Dylan Bradley were instrumental in pulling off the road win.
The Mean Green have continued to struggle this season, losing all three games by at least 14 points. They have a very shaky defense that is prone to big plays, allowing 43.7 points per game, but they do have some solid weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
Running back Antoinne Jimmerson is the key to their offense, rushing for 200 yards so far on 37 carries. He has a compact build with a low center of gravity that creates power, but also has some good moves in the open field. The Golden Eagle front seven will have its hands full with Jimmerson.
Quarterback Andrew McNulty has struggled to start the season, throwing just two touchdowns and four interceptions. His go-to receiver is Carlos Harris, a speedy deep threat with the potential to score from anywhere on
the field. Like the Austin Peay game, this game is more about Southern Miss simply executing rather than its opponent as USM has clearly proven to be the better team. The Golden Eagles have more talent and depth than in previous years and it has shown up through the first four weeks of the season.
“First of all, you have to have playmakers to be at their best when their best is needed,” said head coach Todd Monken. “We have guys like that and we have more depth. We are as banged up as we have been the previous two years, but we have depth and more guys to go to than we have had in the past.” Despite going up against an inferior opponent, Monken knows his team needs to be ready as there is no such thing as an easy conference game.
“It’s going to be a challenge for our team to come back off the road after another emotional game. We have to realize this is a divisional opponent, which is twice as important due to the tiebreaker of divisional games.” – Monken
The Southern Miss offense should have a field day against North Texas. The Mean Green have struggled mightily against both the run and the pass while USM has proven its worth in both facets. Mullens is fifth in the nation in passing yards while the combination of Richard and Ito Smith has rushed for over 600 yards and seven touchdowns in only four games.
It will be interesting to see how the Mean Green defense tries to defend USM’s balanced attack. If they stack the box, Mullens can easily pick apart their secondary. If they use more nickel and dime packages to combat the Golden Eagles’ three and four receiver sets, the running backs will have plenty of room to run.
This game should lead to Southern Miss picking up its first conference win of the season. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.