With Head Coach Jay Hopson and Offensive Coordinator Shannon Dawson entering their second year at their respected positions, the question this year is how will the Golden Eagles execute their offense. With former Golden Eagles quarterback Nick Mullens gone, the question now is can the Golden Eagles continue the aerial attack behind the arm of Kwadra Griggs or Keon Howard or do the Golden Eagles lean towards the talents of Ito Smith and Tez Parks?
Nick Mullens left the Golden Eagles on a high note, throwing for 3,272 yards and 24 touchdowns and ending his career with a New Orleans bowl championship. With the Golden Eagles finishing third overall in pass offense and 11th in rushing offense in the conference, on paper it looks like a no brainer to stick with the pass, but with the pool of talent in the backfield may lean the Golden Eagles towards a ground attack this season.
Senior running back Ito Smith has made a buzz for himself this upcoming year after a productive season last year. Smith finished sixth amongst running backs in C-USA last season, rushing for 1,459 yards and 17 touchdowns. Smith’s elusiveness and break away speed are arguably his best attributes, but his ability to create his own opportunity may be his biggest attribute. His “do it myself” mentality may be very valuable to the Golden Eagles offense in order to establish the passing game.
With either Kwadra Griggs or Keon Howard under center for the first game, a solid receiving core will be on the field to assist the kinks of adapting to game speed. Receivers like Allenzae Staggers and Isaiah ones are definite playmakers for the Golden Eagles but timing may be an issue early in the season. Allowing Smith and Tez Parks to become the main focus of the defense would be the best bet for the Golden Eagles in order to open up the air attack for Southern Miss. Allowing the focus to shift to the backfield can allow the diverse quarterbacks to become comfortable in the pocket to avoid errors.