Year in and year out, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles are a team to reckon with. Last year, Southern Miss went 12-2 overall and stunned Houston in the C-USA title game to prevent them from finishing the season undefeated and having a say in national title hopes. They then went on to beat Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl.
The most impressive thing about their bowl win last year is that Southern Miss has now played in a bowl game in 14 of the past 15 years. Only eight schools have accomplished this feat.
After the season, head coach Larry Fedora left Southern Miss for North Carolina after four seasons at the helm. Enter Ellis Johnson and it has been a struggle in his first season. The Eagles are 0-3 and have been outscored 115-51, including a 42-17 loss at Western Kentucky last week. They are 0-3 for the first time since 1976.
The team brought back a decent amount of talent on both sides of the football, but their struggles have been quite evident on both offense and defense. Things could get worse as it looks like they may have to go with their third string quarterback after their starter and backup suffered injuries.
Starter Chris Campbell is out with a neck injury, backup Anthony Alford with a knee injury, so it appears that redshirt freshman Ricky Lloyd (6-2, 198) will get he start. He is 4-for-8 on the year with 72 yards and a touchdown. In his small amount of time at quarterback, he has ten rushing attempts so you can expect him to run a little on Saturday.
I mentioned above that they despite their struggles, they returned a lot of talent from last year’s bowl winning team. Their ground attack was the strength of their team a year ago and returned nearly 61-percent of their yards and 52-percent of their receiving yards.
A pair of seniors in tailback Desmond Johnson (5-11, 210) and wide receiver Tracy Lampley (5-9, 168) lead the way. Johnson gained over 400 yards last year and this season has 165 yards on 31 carries, good for a 5.3 average.
Lampley is fourth all-time at Southern Miss in all-purpose yards with 4,005 in his career. Despite being listed at wideout he is the team’s leading returning rusher with 463 yards as a junior. This season he has rushed just twice for zero yards and leads the team with five catches for 82 yards.
Just from researching this team and comparing their success to this year’s struggles, it seems as if Johnson needs to get Lampley some more touches.
On defense, the Golden Eagles will use a 4-2-5 scheme that includes a hybrid linebacker/defensive lineman, much like what UK utilizes under Rick Minter. There is no denying the defense’s struggles this year. They are allowing 38.3 points per game and nearly 500 yards of total offense. They have forced just one turnover and this is a season after they set an FBS record with eight interception returns for touchdowns.
Filed Under: Football
About the Author: