The Golden Eagles were untouchable last weekend, thrashing Austin Peay 52-6.
There were a lot of positives coming from that game and they hope they carry them into this week when the team will travel to San Marcos, Texas, to play Texas State.
The defense held Austin Peay to only 189 total offense yards in the game. That same defense also gave in-state rival 442 yards of offense. Nonetheless, Heisman candidate Dak Prescott led the charge against Southern Miss. This game, it was a more clear barometer of the potential of the Golden Eagle attack.
Austin Peay only scored in the first quarter, being shut out for the rest of the game. That shutout was pitched by a defense that held them to only 12 first downs. Also, the Governors only managed a mere two yards per carry. That effort, can be attributed to the defensive line.
“Our defensive front and linebackers gave their offense problems all afternoon,” said head coach Monken. “If you are good up front, there is so much you can do.”
The defensive line is one of the most improved areas on the team across the board. From the addition of Naim Mustafaa to the maturation of players like Xavier Thigpen, the growth along the defensive front is more than warranted.
Junior Dylan Bradley had a game for the books against Austin Peay. He finished with eight tackles, with seven of those in a solo effort. He also finished with two sacks to add to the stat sheet for this game.
‘(Bradley is) a hard guy to block and he likes to play the game,” Monken said. “We had an advantage up front and it showed.”
The offense for the Golden Eagles was potent in every facet. Quarterback Nick Mullens threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns in another great showing for the junior quarterback.
“He is only going to get better,” Monken said. “We are expecting to get guys back Saturday that will help him with that.”
This weekend, the Golden Eagles will travel to take on the Bobcats in what should be a very explosive game from both offenses. But that wont stop the optimism of coach Monken.
“I know they have a good quarterback,” Monken said. “I know we’re better on both sides of the ball.”
Texas State went 7-5 last season, just missing out on a bowl game. This season, Texas State is looking for the same respect the Golden Eagles desire.
“We’re significantly different, but then so are they. They’re much further along now than they were then, but so are we.” – Monken
Texas State hung up 63 points against Prairie View A&M last week in their home opener. Although they lost to Florida State 59-16, there were some positives. They racked up 300 yards of offense and only committed one penalty. They may have been outmatched that game, but they showed a fight that they can bring to the Golden Eagles.
This week, Southern Miss will have a few surprises on the field in Texas.
“We’ve had some guys nicked up, so getting those guys back for this week, so we’re at full strength,” Monken said. “We’re going to need to be at full strength.”
This offseason, all of the hype coming out of fall camp was due to the arrival of certain players and some players who developed significantly. Seniors Wil Freeman and Mike Thomas were both hurt early in Week 1, but hopefully they will see the field. Transfer Julian Allen has yet to step onto the field, but he will be another Golden Eagle to look out for.
For the Golden Eagles to win this game, they will have to bring the same fire that they brought in the past two contests.
“(Monken) said it starts with the (defensive) line,” Bradley said. “We know we got to go out there and make our own energy.”
This week, we will really get a chance to see just how far Southern Miss has come. Their test will be against a very capable Texas State team, itching for the same respect.
“Whether you win or lose, it is about what you take away from the game,” Monken said. “It is all about working your rear ends off every day, failing, correcting those mistakes and getting better.”
Kickoff is at 6 p.m.