The Southern Miss Golden Eagles struggled last week versus the Texas State Bobcats. The offense struggled early and the offensive line was inconsistent. The Golden Eagle defense was the silver lining last week, giving the team something to lean on as they prepare to face Nebraska.
Offensive struggles last week started with the skill players as they gave the ball away on their first two possessions of the game. The inexperience on the offensive line only made things worse. The offense’s passing attack can be among the best in the nation, if they can hold onto the ball, but last week the Golden Eagles showed no signs of that as they had six turnovers. Southern Miss outgained the Bobcats last week, but somehow lost the time of possession.
The Golden Eagles offense will need the rushing game to travel to Lincoln. Texas State managed to make the Eagles play with one hand behind their back; USM only rushed for 23 yards as a team. Lack of execution put the Golden Eagles behind the eight ball early.
The defense was stout versus the run last week, but most of those runs were designed runs. The “Nasty Bunch” must be ready for the dual threat of Nebraska’s quarterback Taylor Martinez. With one week under their belt along with a little confidence after a good showing last week, the defensive group could be dangerous this week. Nebraska rushed the ball 63 times for 375 yards against the Wyoming Cowboys.
Junior Dasman McCullum has the arduous task of filling the shoes of NFL second-round draft pick Jamie Collins. McCullum was in the backfield the whole night versus the Bobcats, and finished the game with two tackles for loss, a pass break up and a fumble recovery. A repeat performance will be needed this Saturday against a ranked Nebraska team.
Nebraska allowed a team that they should have beaten in the first half hang around for four quarters. The Wyoming Cowboys gained 600 yards of total offense to the Cornhuskers’ 530 yards. A majority of the Cowboys’ yards came through the air.
A struggling pass defense is good news for the Golden Eagles. Allan Bridgford threw for 377 yards last week in a loss. Senior Rickey Bradley is a key player to watch this week after a career day versus the Bobcats. He appears to be the deep threat Southern Miss needs with his ability to stretch the defense.
Wyoming was able to contend with Nebraska thanks to big plays; the Cowboys had eight plays of 20 yards or more. Against Texas State, the Golden Eagles only had four plays of 20 or more.
I believe Nebraska wins this game. Coaching will not decide the game, the players will. Being simply put, Nebraska has better players than Southern Miss at this point. Nebraska’s play against Wyoming was a fluke. I am sure coach Bo Pelini will have his guys fired up and ready to play another team that they should beat.
One thing coach Monken should preach to his to team is that they need to do two things to win a football game that they aren’t suppose to win: control the clock and have a positive turnover margin.