The Southern Miss football team has spent their open week focusing on themselves, not on the Boise State Broncos. Coach Todd Monken decided to spend the week working out kinks within the offense and defense.
“We’re glad the bye week came when it did,” Monken said. “We know we haven’t been hitting on all cylinders as a team, so we come into this bye week (looking) to get everything straight.”
The Golden Eagles spent their Sept.19th practice working on team chemistry with team building exercises that involved relay races, and an egg toss competition that eventually culminated with a punt catching contest. Monken says he had planned to have this off day for the team. Monken also felt it would be more beneficial to have a fun day than grind through another tough practice.
The offense has been inconsistent so far this season averaging 312 yards a game. Week in and week out, the Golden Eagles bring in a good passing game. Last week versus Arkansas the running game appeared to surface, gaining over 100 yards on the ground.
Southern Miss has played very difficult teams early in the season, but the number one reason for the three losses this is turnovers. The Golden Eagles have lost possession 12 times this season: four fumbles and eight interceptions. Lack of ball control does not improve winning chances either. The offense is averaging a little over 26 minutes a game while opponents are averaging nearly 34 minutes per game.
Quarterback Allan Bridgford has accounted for 732 yards of the offense’s 938 yards. It is safe to say as Bridgford goes, so goes Southern Miss. Bridgford’s ability to lead the team depends on the supporting cast. The supporting cast was on the field for the season opener but since, the players around Bridgford have been inconsistent. Dropped passes and blown assignments are stats that do not show up on stat sheets for certain players. Dropped passes aren’t his fault, but they affect Bridgford’s completion to attempt ratio. Those who only look to stats for player production are being misled.
The Golden Eagles defense has done what has been expected of them. They’ve stopped or slowed down the teams they were expected to do. Arkansas’ offensive line outweighed USM’s defensive line and simply imposed their will against the smaller Southern Miss defensive line. Opposing teams seems to have found the defense’s weakness to be the rush defense. Opponents have rushed for a total of 616 yards.
Teams do not appear to want to test the secondary: there have been only 60 passing attempts versus the Golden Eagles defense. Even though statistics can be inflated because of the score, watching the games, teams would rather run the ball. A bulk of the 616 yards are from two of the better teams Southern Miss will face. Both Nebraska and Arkansas have a physical playing style.
Boise State suffered a close 41-40 loss this weekend to Derek Carr and the Fresno State Bulldogs. The Broncos gained 561 total yards, including 200 on the ground. The Broncos do not lack offense; if the Golden Eagles can get opportune stops throughout the game they will have a chance.