USM to face Rice, both teams in search of first CUSA win
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 00:10
The Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi facing off with the Owls of Rice in a Conference USA battle will be a bigger story come baseball season. This weekend, however, the game will feature the only two teams without a conference win this season. Southern Miss fell to 0-7 on the season and 0-3 in conference after their loss to Marshall last weekend.
The Rice Owls come into the game with a 2-6 record overall and a 0-4 conference record. Rice upset Kansas earlier in the season, with their other win coming against future C-USA member Texas-San Antonio. The games they have lost include two road losses by four points to Memphis and Tulsa.
“They’ve already upset Kansas,” Southern Miss Head Football Coach Ellis Johnson said. “They had a very close ball game with Tulsa, who seems to be playing as well as anyone on that side [of the conference]. They had an overtime loss to Marshall, a team that beat us handedly. They are a really good football team that has just struggled on a couple of close ball games. I feel like the core of their football team is a good, physical run game. That’s something we haven’t been very good at, so it’s going to be a challenge for us.”
The Owls average 204.3 yards on the ground per game. They are led by a triple-headed rushing attack by quarterback Taylor McHargue and running backs Charles Ross and Turner Peterson. All three have over 80 carries on the season and average over four yards a carry.
Southern Miss has seen their share of run-focused offenses this season. The Eagles have only held one team to less than 100 yards rushing this season. They allowed 278 rushing yards to Nebraska, 369 yards to Western Kentucky and 275 yards to Marshall. Southern Miss was outscored 150-61 in those three games.
The Eagles will face equal challenges on the offensive end. The quarterback position took another turn Saturday against Marshall. After starter Anthony Alford left the game in the third quarter with a toe injury, Ricky Lloyd lasted a couple of series before leaving with a knee injury. Last year’s backup quarterback, Arsenio Favor, saw his first action of the season when he replaced Lloyd.
Favor, who was injured in spring practices, finished the game by completing four of his five passes for 13 yards and added a rushing touchdown. Johnson said he would get his shot at the starter’s snaps in practice. Johnson also noted that former starter Chris Campbell has been cleared to play. Campbell has not played since he suffered a neck injury against Western Kentucky.
Whoever takes the snaps against Rice, they will have their hands full trying to get the Eagles’ offense in gear. Southern Miss ranks 119th in the NCAA in passing yards and is the 110th ranked team in points scored per game.
This is the first time in 18 years that the Eagles will not finish the season with a winning record and are off to their worst start since the 1976 season. It will be important for them to find something positive in the last five games in order to build some momentum for next season.