After a dreadful 0-12 season, the Southern Miss football team looks to “Rise to the Top” as their season motto suggests. At first glance, their winless 2012 season looked dismal but after a look into the numbers there is reason for hope this season; other than not being able to lose more than 12 games again.
Last season, the Golden Eagles lost five games by 10 points or less, notably a double overtime thriller versus Conference USA foe Central Florida. In December, Southern Miss hired former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
The Golden Eagle offense will need the greatest improvement at the quarterback position after having a quarterback carousel last season. The forerunner appears to be former Cal quarterback, transfer Allan Bridgford, who will have only one season in Hattiesburg. He arrived shortly before the start of training camp after graduating from Cal this summer.
Bridgford will have some help on the offensive side as three of last season’s top receivers return including senior Dominique Sullivan. A cause for concern on the offensive side is the offensive line as they try replacing four starters.
The Golden Eagle defense will have their hands full replacing second round draft pick Jamie Collins. Even with Collins on the field, they managed to give up 426 yards per game.
The defensive line and linebacker positions will have to lead the defense as they have six returning starters. While the coaching staff believes the defensive backfield will be the strength of the defense, I beg to differ. The defensive backfield has only one starter returning in senior Deron Wilson. While the position group has experience, other than Wilson, they lack consistent production. Wilson has four interceptions returned for touchdowns in his career at USM.
My prediction for the 2013 season: the Golden Eagles will not lose 13 consecutive games as they face Texas State in the opener, followed by three non-conference opponents: Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State. All of these games I believe should be losses barring blessings from the “Football Gods”.
After those three away from “The Rock”, the Golden Eagles return home to face C-USA newcomer FIU, which should be the second victory of the season. Next up is East Carolina, who won last season’s game by 10. I believe ECU wins again.
For homecoming games you always schedule a sure win, and while that may not be the case this season, I will still favor USM over North Texas. After last season’s embarrassing 59-24 loss to Marshall at home, the Golden Eagles travel to Huntington looking for payback. I feel the Golden Eagles lose this one, but hopefully not by as much.
Arguably the best team to not play in a bowl game last season, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (9-3) will likely defeat the Golden Eagles.
In the final to home games of the season at “The Rock”, FAU and Middle Tennessee State will be visiting. I like the Golden Eagles’ chances against FAU but versus Middle Tennessee State that’s a different story. I just hope the game doesn’t get too out of hand. After the loss to MTSU, I predict the Golden Eagles will close the season on a high note as they face UAB.
My prediction for the 2013 season is 5-7. I would not be surprised if they stole a few to get to six or seven wins. I know my prediction for their season is not a winning season but for USM fans, at least there is some winning.