In wake of the 24-10 Tennessee loss, Southern Miss has now dropped two major games in a row. On top of that Southern Miss for two games in a row now, has missed out on securing bowl eligibility.
Much of the blame belongs to the inconsistency of the offense and a plethora of mental mistakes.
Despite, favored starting quarterback Kwadra Griggs going down with injury, quarterback Keon Howard did his job in leading his team to a three-game win streak in the games Griggs could not play in.
After that win streak, in both the University of Alabama Birmingham and Tennessee games, a not 100% Griggs played backup to Howard. In both games Howard was pulled in the fourth quarter in hopes of starting some type of fire into the offense.
“Keon (Howard) did a lot of good things. He came in and look at the UTSA, El Paso, LA Tech games and big wins and big plays, said Head Coach Jay Hopson. “Keon didn’t play that bad Saturday. There were a lot of positives that he had.”
Switching between quarterbacks has not brought much spark to the offense but instead only brings more inconsistency to the offense. Sticking through with either starting quarterback can be hard at times but constantly switching out does not help the offense and seems to throw the team out of sync.
“I said this at the start of the season, but we’re blessed to have two talented quarterbacks that are competing,” Hopson said. “Looking at the game, having Kwadra back healthy is probably who we’ll go with. I will still evaluate through the week just to make sure I don’t do anything premature. That’s kind of where my mind is right now. We’ll watch in practice.”
Third and long:
The Golden Eagles have found themselves in many third and longs and are not converting them. Southern Miss was 5-of-17 in third down conversions against UAB and were no better against the Volunteers as they were only 7-of-20.
The defense has held strong:
Despite giving up 54 points in the past two games, the blame cannot be placed on the defense. Short field positions from the lack of conversions has given the defense a bad deal.
The Golden Eagles have dealt with early offensive penalties throughout the season which is another setback the offense has made for itself. Southern Miss is now two penalties away from the most in school history. Although the Tennessee game’s officiating was highly questionable, it still does not excuse for the early offensive penalties the team has done.
A cold run game:
The run game has not had time to establish itself due to teams forcing the Golden Eagles to have to play catch up. Against UAB, Southern Miss only had 81 rushing yards and 118 against Tennessee. Running back Ito Smith had a hamstring injury dating back to the Louisiana Tech which has hurt the explosive aspect of his game but has also taken a toll on the run game itself.
Going forward, Griggs will look to be the starting quarterback again since he looks healthy enough to be starting again. Winning out will be key if the Golden Eagles want to make the C-USA championship game but they will also need North Texas and UAB to drop conference matchups. However, this all goes back in having the offense in trying to find its groove that they had early in the season.
“One week at a time. All that matters right now is Rice. It’s a big game. Our team understands it’s a big game. They better understand it’s a big game. That’s all our focus and all we’re worried on.”