- Turnovers are killer once again
Generally, holding a team to 224 yards of total offense indicates a stellar defensive performance and results in a win at the end of the day. While the defense did look good against the Charlotte 49ers, the offense had trouble with turnovers again this week. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jack Abraham arguably had his worst game of the season against Charlotte, throwing three interceptions and only 210 yards through the air, including a 79-yard interception that was returned for a touchdown by Charlotte’s Juwan Foggie as time expired in the first quarter.
- Whatley shines in one quarter of play
Abraham was injured following a hit while attempting to convert a 4th and 11 at the 3:53 mark in the third quarter. By the time the Southern Miss offense got the ball back in the fourth quarter, Head Coach Jay Hopson inserted freshman Tate Whatley to play in relief of the injured Abraham. Whatley gave the Southern Miss offense a much needed spark as he led the offense on two touchdown drives in the quarter. Whatley showed mobility and good arm strength in his one quarter of play, going 6-of-8 with 87 passing yards and two touchdowns to wide receivers De’Michael Harris and Jordan Mitchell. He also led the team in rushing, with eight attempts for 62 yards on the ground. If there is a positive takeaway from this loss, it is that the depth at quarterback is solid heading into the final stretch of the season and beyond.
3. Running backs hit a roadblock against 49ers Defense.
One week removed from the team’s best performance on the ground against UTSA, the team only gained 129 yards on the ground. After rushing for 142 yards against the Roadrunners, freshman running back Trivenskey Mosley was held to just 37 yards on 10 carries against Charlotte. However, the lack of carries and yardage is in part to Southern Miss trailing for the entirety of the game and having to adjust the offensive game plan accordingly. Steven Anderson fared better in his limited body of work, carrying the ball five times for 30 yards, an average of six yards per carry. In order for Southern Miss to have any chance of going bowling this year, I still maintain that the run game must get rolling in order to achieve that goal.
- Defense played well (again)
As has been the case throughout the season, the defense as a unit has been very stout. As mentioned earlier in this article, Charlotte was held to 224 yards of offense in the game, including 78 yards passing. Charlotte also converted just five-of-13 third down attempts against the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss is also ranked number two in total defense in Conference USA, allowing 280.5 yards per game. Consequently, in the team’s four losses this season, the Golden Eagles have allowed just 21, 24, 30 and 20 points to the opposing teams in those contests.
5. Bowl prospects look tougher and tougher
With the loss to Charlotte, Southern Miss stands at 3-4 overall and 2-2 in C-USA play. Generally, six wins is the magic number to achieve bowl eligibility (Do not get me started on the amount of bowl games in existence today and how some 5-7 teams can go bowling nowadays) The C-USA games left on the schedule include matchups against 5-2 Marshall, 7-1 UAB, 6-2 Louisiana Tech and 0-8 UTEP. With three tough games remaining against teams with winning records, I do not currently see a path to six wins for the Golden Eagles as of right now, though anything is possible.
Southern Miss will return home to face Marshall at M.M. Roberts Stadium on Saturday, November 3. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.