CUSA 2008 Football Previews > 2008 Southern Miss Football Preview
2008 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles football preview
Southern Miss Golden Eagles - Conference USA
2007 Record: (7-6, 5-3)
2007 Bowl: Papa John’s.com Bowl vs. Cincinnati (L 21-31)
Coach: Larry Fedora (1 st season at Southern Miss, 154-145 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Wyatt
Defensive Coordinator: Todd Bradford
Returning Leaders for Southern Miss:
Other Key Returnees: LB Tukumbo Abanikanda, CB C.J. Bailey, WR Gerald Baptiste, K/P Britt Barefoot, FB Josh Barton, G Ryan Hebert, G Wesley Housley, CB Michael McGee, OT Ryan McKee, TE Shawn Nelson, DT Eric Phillips
Key Losses: DE Matthew Chatelain, G Chris Clark, G Nick Dean, LB James Denley, LB Robert Henderson, DT Sean Merrill, DT Martavius Prince, FB Marcus Raines, S LeVance Richmond, CB Brandon Sumrall, C Rick Thompson, QB Jeremy Young
When Southern Miss decided it was time for a change, they went all out. Former coach Jeff Bower was the head man for 17 seasons and, despite 14 straight winning records and six consecutive trips to a bowl game, the Golden Eagles have a new leader. Gone are the consistent, yet usually monotonous, days of Coach Bower. Enter the exciting football of Coach Larry Fedora.
Southern Miss' Strengths:
It was the defense that made Southern Miss relatively successful last season. Linebacker Gerald McRath is the leader of the defense and is back for his senior season. With Tukumbo Abanikanda by his side and safety Eddie Hicks and corner C.J. Bailey in the secondary, the back seven is in good hands. Despite the new look, running back Damion Fletcher will still be a vital part of the offense. Now there will just be a lot more spread looks and that should give the 5-10 Fletcher plenty of room to work his magic. Without guards Chris Clark and Ryan Hebert the line might not be as good as it was last season, but tackles Ryan McKee and Calvin Wilson are experienced enough to lead the unit. Tight end Shawn Nelson is one of the best in the nation and receiving targets Gerald Baptiste and Torris Magee are also back.
Weaknesses for the 2008 Golden Eagles:
However, the team does not have an experienced quarterback on the roster. Jeremy Young and Stephen Reaves both ran out of eligibility after splitting time last season and that leaves sophomore Martevious Young as the most experienced option. Freshman Austin Davis had an impressive spring and could overtake Young for the starting job. Davis, a former walk-on who was on a baseball scholarship, does not have a great arm, but he is quite accurate. Davis, like Young, can make plays with his feet, but it will come down to who can run the offense more efficiently. Last year’s quarterbacks were not spectacular by any means, and this is a totally new offense, but having some more experience would make Southern Miss fans feel a little better about the situation.
The Bottom Line for Southern Mississippi:
On the defensive side, just about everybody who played a significant role on the line is gone. The new defense wants to depend on getting pressure on the quarterback, so finding some replacements is of the utmost importance. David Boyce, Andrew Burns and Roshaad Byrd better get into the backfield or the entire defense could take a turn for the worse.
2007 Team Stats for USM:
Rushing Offense: 201.62 (19th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 188.08 (95, 11)
Total Offense: 389.69 (63, 10)
Scoring Offense: 27.77 (61, 9)
Rushing Defense: 134.31 (43, 3)
Pass Defense: 232.08 (67, 3)
Total Defense: 366.38 (48, 2)
Scoring Defense: 24.15 (41, 1)
Turnover Margin: -.08 (64, 5)
Sacks: 2.23 (49, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.69 (41, 5)