During Southern Miss’ 40-22 win over Rice on Saturday, Sept. 22, one of the key takeaways was that the Golden Eagles dominated the passing game with Jack Abraham throwing for 428 passing yards, four touchdowns and only one interception. This helped the Southern Miss offense to rally past the Rice defense. Sophomore Jack Abraham is now one of six Southern Miss quarterbacks to throw for over 400-plus passing yards in a game, putting him in the company of former Southern Miss quarterbacks Nick Mullens and Austin Davis.
Abraham praised the offensive unit’s production for their role in the team’s win.
“We were just taking what they were giving us,” Abraham said. “I felt on all cylinders we executed to the best of our ability tonight. [The offensive line] played their tails off and did what we asked them to do.”
The main focal point against Rice was the running game. Southern Miss running backs combined for 138 yards on the ground and one touchdown.The pair of freshmen running backs,Trivenskey Mosley and Steven Anderson, showed that they deserved more touches with their performances against Rice.
The running game struggled through the first two games so far this season. Whether that’s the offensive line’s fault or the group of running backs as a unit is still a question. The two position groups both often complement each other, but Saturday night was a different story and there was improvement in both aspects. The way the running backs complemented each other against Rice is a good sign.
What I witnessed amongst the defensive players was high energy and lots of emotions. Senior linebacker Jeremy Sangster played with a high motor throughout the night, racking up 7 total tackles. Sophomore linebacker Racheem Boothe also racked up 8 total tackles, seven of them solo. The defense line often struggled early on against the Owls rushing attack but as the game progressed, the run defense improved. I felt that the defense as a whole played pretty well against the pass and the run.
“Everybody played fast and hard,” Sangster said. “We played as a unit and we played as brothers. We put our big boy pants on and we knew they would run lead, power and iso.”
Another big takeaway was the secondary’s performance and how skilled the members of that unit are. Sophomore defensive back Rachuan Mitchell came up with his first career interception, taking it 45 yards before getting tackled. Junior defensive back Ty Williams also came up with an interception on the night for the Golden Eagles.
“I jammed the receiver, I saw the crossing route and the defensive line gave a lot of pressure. I just tried to take it to the house,” Mitchell said. “I knew once we got pressure on the quarterback that he would make bad decisions and that’s what happened.”
Overall, this team has the ability to compete with anyone, and this game against Rice was important for finding strengths in the running game. Abraham played very well and the defense proved that they can bend, but not break.
Still, next week will be tough for the Golden Eagles as they take on the Auburn Tigers. It will be interesting to see how Southern Miss responds in its first and only matchup against a SEC opponent this season. Kickoff at Jordan-Hare Stadium is set for 3 p.m. on September 29th.