After Southern Miss endured a difficult first week with a season opener loss to South Alabama and former Head Coach Jay Hopson’s resignation, the team looks to bounce back in their next game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
Southern Miss is coming off of a bye week, hoping to be well-rested and polished for the Sep. 19 matchup against Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs were scheduled to play their season opener on Sep. 12, but it was postponed after 36 players on the team tested positive for COVID-19. The situation is being monitored before the team travels to Hattiesburg. Barring any last-minute postponement, the teams are still scheduled to play.
Southern Miss holds a 35-16 record versus Louisiana Tech. Last year, the Bulldogs won the matchup against the Golden Eagles 45-30 and snapped Southern Miss’ four-game winning streak in the series. In that game, Southern Miss quarterback Jack Abraham threw four interceptions. While Amik Robertson, who grabbed three of those picks, is now in the NFL, the Golden Eagles will still have to look to protect the ball better to stay in the game.
However, turnovers weren’t a problem in the first game for Southern Miss. The team moved the ball for 409 yards without a turnover. Instead, other problems hindered the offense, including six red-zone trips that resulted in only two touchdowns. Abraham noted that it would be an area of “emphasis” for the team to work on during the bye week.
“One of my biggest pet peeves is when we get down there and have a problem punching it [in],” Abraham said after the first game.
Before the season started, Offensive Coordinator Matt Kubik mentioned that the offense will prioritize running the ball. Last season, Southern Miss finished second-to-last in the conference in rushing offense and recorded only 3.4 yards per carry.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to establish the run game early in some of these games and if it’s not there, we’ve got some athletes to adjust,” Kubik said.
While the Golden Eagles ran the ball 37 times versus South Alabama, the running game never materialized. Southern Miss averaged 2.6 yards per carry last game, an average the team looks to improve down the road. However, Southern Miss might have trouble improving the run game against Louisiana Tech, with their defense that finished fourth-best in the conference last year.
The offense also looks to continue to utilize star receiver Tim Jones. In the season opener, Jones led the team with six receptions and 139 yards. Wide receiver Jason Brownlee also hauled in five catches and looks to share the load of targets with Jones next game.
Southern Miss’s defense will face a challenge against Louisiana Tech’s second-best scoring offense of Conference USA in 2019. Southern Miss allowed South Alabama to gain 526 yards. While Southern Miss’ secondary got two interceptions, they allowed an average of 20 yards per completion and allowed two receivers to catch over 100 yards each.
With the Louisiana Tech contest, Southern Miss looks to generate some pressure from its defensive line. The Golden Eagles failed to record a single sack in the first game. Last season, the team finished second in the Conference in sacks, and hopes to retain, if not add onto, that number.
While it is difficult to analyze one game’s worth of performance, Southern Miss will face a challenge going against Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs finished last season with a 10-3 (6-2 C-USA) record, and have established themselves as one of the best teams in the conference.
The game is scheduled for Sep. 19 at M.M. Roberts Stadium with kickoff at 6:30 P.M.