Good late morning to you. I bet you're wondering about these Golden Eagles from Southern Miss. Well, wonder no more, as this week's question and answer session is here. Today, we got Landon Howell to help us out.
Landon Howell is a life long Southern Miss fan who, despite living in Boston still renews his USM football season tickets. He is the Head of Strategy & Content at Fancred, a sports social media company that launched earlier this year. You can find him on twitter right here.
1. Well, Ellis Johnson is gone, and Todd Monken started his tenure in Hattiesburg. While the losing streak kept on to Texas State, It seems like there is some optimism for the Eagles that wasn't there much last year, is this fair to say?
Definitely fair to say. Ellis Johnson is a good man, but there's no excuse in allowing a 12-2 to become an 0-12 team. I still have yet to fathom that the 2012 Southern Miss football season was something that actually happened.
Saturday's performance by Southern Miss was the best I've seen since the 2011 C-USA Championship Game against #6 Houston. The defense was solid at all positions. The QB and receivers made big plays. The offensive play calling involved calculated risks, making Southern Miss football fun to watch again.
The only thing that could rain on our parade was turnovers, of which there were six. All in all, last week showed us that this year's Eagles are better on both sides of the ball, but they are young. In the end, all I could think about was the fumble scene from The Program.
2. Allan Bridgford lit up the sky for 386 yards in passing, but the running game was basically non-existent. Do you think this was a one time instance, or is Bridgford going to have to carry the offense?
Bridgford is only going to be as strong as his offensive line. Southern Miss has one returning starter on it o-line, and it showed against Texas State.
He didn't look comfortable scrambling, either. Whether this was due to nerves or an o-line that was caught off guard by how quickly Texas State made it to the backfield, it was an interesting night for Bridgford when he had to run.
However, for what Bridgford lacked in his scrambling, he made up for in passing. Look for quick routes to play a role against Nebraska, early. This will help him get comfortable and take some pressure of the o-line.
3. Southern Miss’ D seemed to be somewhat decent, only giving up the 22 points. What did you take away from the game versus the Bobcats that would give you any thought of them being able to slow down the Huskers’ O?
The D was near flawless, save for the last scoring drive by Texas State. Only 15 of the points were given up by the Eagle D. An offensive fumble in the 1st quarter was returned by Texas State for a touchdown, and the Southern Miss offense coughed up the ball on four of its most promising drives.
Nebraska didn't have much trouble with Southern Miss's D last year. With the exception of Jamie Collins, who was the Patriots' first pick in the NFL Draft, Nebraska made it look easier than it should have been in the seconds half. In 2012, Nebraska resorted to a trick play for their first touchdown. It was beautiful, and it took Southern Miss out of the game mentally.
Look for something similar this year. A deep route early on a defensive mismatch being the most likely play.
4. This game was originally supposed to be in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, but instead was "sold" if you will to Nebraska to come to Lincoln. Has it helped the finances of the Southern Miss AD office at all? Or is this going to be a long term issue?
I can't speak to the specifics of finances, but I can tell you the Southern Miss faithful, and the University itself ready and were willing to do anything and everything to return to the USM football program that everyone knows. From what I understand, Southern Miss's Athletic Department is as strong and driven as ever. Losing the game to Lincoln was sad, but Southern Miss fans have never spoken an ill word of their visits to Memorial Stadium. Nebraska fans have always welcomed us with hospitality and excitement.
5. We talked about the offense up top, but what was originally the perception of the Monken offense from Oklahoma State? Was there excitement from what he did with the Cowboys, or questions about whether it would work in Hattiesburg?
Of the last three head coaches at Southern Miss prior to Monken, two were incredibly successful at USM, and both of those individuals (Jeff Bower and Larry Fedora) came from Oklahoma State as OCs. Superstition helped us like Monken, but watching his tape helped us love him. The style of play he ran at Oklahoma State is exactly what Southern Miss fans want. In addition, his attitude and leadership with the team is exactly what they as players wanted wanted.
6. Give us some names on both sides of the ball to watch in Lincoln Saturday evening that we may not be aware of.
Holmes (WR) is true freshman whose debut did not disappoint. 12 catches for 96 yards, but more importantly he looked confident and made smart decisions. At 170 lbs and 5'11, he's light and quick. His performance last week makes him more of a threat than most originally thought, which will force Nebraska to adjust on defense in order to better cover a solid group of Southern Miss receivers.
On defense, Rakeem Nunez-Roches is a big boy who moves fast off the line. Nunez-Roches is 6'2, 290 but there were moments in 2012 where he shot gaps quicker than Jamie Collins. If he gets into the backfield he will wreak havoc on the first person he meets.
7. Alright, prediction time. Lets have your vision of how the game is going to shape up, along with a final score and winner.
I see one of two scenarios playing out.
The first scenario involves Nebraska striking first and fast. This is what happened in 2012 and 2004, and Southern Miss could never recover. This scenario is ugly and results in a 30+ point Nebraska win.
The second scenario involves Nebraska letting Southern Miss hang around. This happened in 2004 and a 21-17 Southern Miss win felt like complete domination. If Nebraska gives the Eagles hope, Southern Miss will take advantage of every mistake, keeping it close enough to take advantage of a jittery Husker side. A single digit win or loss will be the result.
My fearless, optimistic prediction: Nebraska 30, Southern Miss 23.
We want to thank Landon for his help this week and hope he has a victory or four to talk about this year. Just.... not this week, mind you.