Southern Miss felt they were ready to face the best team in Conference USA Saturday, Louisiana Tech, but fell 31-20 in a game that could have been won by the Golden Eagles.
Injuries and inexperience hurt USM as they lost their starting quarterback, Nick Mullens, to a foot injury early in the first quarter. Redshirt senior Cole Weeks was the next quarterback in line and given the chance to lead the Golden Eagle offense.
The look of the offense quickly changed with Mullens absent.
Weeks had a slow start at quarterback, starting off his first two or three drives with only screen passes. He loosened up and threw for over 200 yards for the first time in his career, but it was not enough.
USM’s defense, however, looked sharp throughout most of the game. They had numerous three-and-outs, sacks and pressure on the quarterback.
Without Mullens it seemed as if the offense could not get things going.
Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken knew they had to stop La Tech’s star running back Kenneth Dixon, in order to be successful. He was held to under 20 rushing yards, but had 124 yards receiving along with two touchdowns. That was a new career high for Dixon.
USM was able to hold La Tech’s rushing yards to only 32, but the rushing game was almost non exisistent for the Golden Eagles, rushing for just 32 yards.
The wheels fell off in the 4th quarter for USM as they were unable to move the ball down the field and the La Tech offense confidently took over. The Bulldogs scored two touchdowns in the the 4th quarter while Southern Miss scored one.
Southern Miss needs to be much more consistent for four quarters in order to start stacking wins.