Southern Miss at its best possible is a terrifying mixture of pace and salt and chips on shoulders. It is a crew that received’t win all its video games however can win in opposition to any opponent.
As the sort of foe, the Golden Eagles are graded on curves. We pass judgement on them in opposition to Conference USA friends, clearly. And they’re given an S&P+ score similar to everyone else. But we additionally grade them at the SASM scale: Salty-Ass Southern Miss.
It’s as much as Jay Hopson, then, to deliver the salt again.
Southern Miss is the poster kid for each inspiring “doing more with less” stories and the entire issues that include such a lot of systems having to do extra with much less. The Golden Eagles have punched above their weight for a lot of the ultimate 60-plus years.
Finances don’t seem to be just right. When a USM assistant proves himself, you’ll all however make it possible for colleges will swoop in. (The newest instance: FAU stole Hopson’s defensive coordinator at the precipice of spring ball.) But onward the Golden Eagles cross, working out tactics to scrape ahead and win between seven and 9 wins each and every 12 months.
The one contemporary time USM strayed, issues were given bizarre. The Eagles after all broke thru and received 12 video games and a Conference USA identify in 2018, then misplaced each head trainer Larry Fedora and 32 of the following 36 video games. But Todd Monken were given the send steadied in 2018 with a nine-win season, and Hopson has captained 15 wins in two years. The recipe is volatile, the result’s once more secure.
Things have been particularly volatile in 2018, even as the consequences have been as secure as ever.
Using postgame win expectancy — a device designed to mention “based on the key stats you produced in this game, you could have expected to win X percent of the time” — Southern Miss had slightly any in-between. The Golden Eagles had a postgame win expectancy of 90 % or upper in seven video games (together with an unfortunate season-opening loss to Kentucky) and an 8th sport at 78 %. They have been additionally at 25 % or decrease 5 instances (together with a fortunate win over Marshall).
Either they’d the entire solutions, or they’d nearly none. They took down UTSA when the Roadrunners have been taking a look like the most efficient crew in the convention, treated Louisiana Tech at the street with a backup QB*, and wanted unhealthy breaks to fail to notice a 2d win over Kentucky in as a few years. They additionally misplaced to North Texas and UAB through a blended 33 and blew a ton of alternatives in falling to the worst Tennessee crew in ages.
Based on what returns and what doesn’t, this 12 months may be similarly volatile. Southern Miss returns beginning quarterback Kwadra Griggs, three-fifths of his offensive line, and mainly each linebacker. The Eagles should additionally substitute main rusher (and No. Three receiver) Ito Smith and each and every of Griggs’ best 4 goals, plus 4 in their best six linemen and 6 of 7 in the secondary.
Hopson loaded up on JUCO transfers — 3 defensive linemen, two defensive backs, two receivers, plus a linebacker, an offensive lineman, and a quarterback — which isn’t unusual in Hattiesburg. But that makes an volatile combine much more so, and it makes Southern Miss more difficult than standard to are expecting.
Oh, who am I kidding? The Eagles are going to win no less than seven video games, pull a pleasant dissatisfied, and endure a few incomprehensible losses. The combine is at all times loopy, and the win overall generally remains about the similar.
* If we’re speaking about instability, then we want to spend a second at the Louisiana Tech sport. Backup Keon Howard threw a select six on the finish of the primary part, and Tech held a 27-16 lead with not up to 90 seconds final. But a box purpose, an onside kick, a 22-yard landing go, and a two-point conversion despatched the sport to OT. Tech threw an INT, then Howard did the similar. On Howard’s subsequent go, alternatively, he threw a 25-yard landing. USM come what may survived probably the most best possible and worst video games of the 12 months.
Both Griggs and backup Keon Howard contributed to Southern Miss’ usaand downs. Griggs outlasted Howard in fall camp and unfolded with 3 instantly just right to large performances. He carried a 154.7 passer score (which might have ranked 11th nationally over a whole season) into the North Texas sport, then injured his hand, went 19-for-42 in a loss to the Mean Green, and neglected the following 3 video games.
Howard got here in, did good things in opposition to UTSA (213.Five passer score) and great-and-terrible issues in opposition to UTEP and Louisiana Tech (4 TDs, 4 selections). But the offense stagnated in opposition to UAB and Tennessee, and Hopson and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson introduced a less-than-100-percent Griggs in in each and every sport, hoping for a spark. Didn’t occur.
After the Tennessee sadness, Griggs re-established himself, throwing seven touchdowns to no selections with a 62 % final touch score in the general 3 video games of the common season, all wins.
In video games in which Griggs was once no less than most commonly wholesome, USM was once Five-2, with losses simplest to energy convention Kentucky (unfortunate) and Florida State (greatly outmanned). That may be an indication, however Griggs has to once more win the process. He’ll face a problem from each Howard and incoming three-star JUCO Jack Abraham.
One assumes Griggs is the favourite, however his supporting solid will trade.
For starters, the protection blankets are long gone.
- Ito Smith rushed for a minimum of 90 yards in six of Griggs’ 8 begins, and he stuck no less than two passes in 12 of 13 video games. He was once a rock for each and every of the ultimate 3 seasons and completed his profession with Four,536 speeding yards, 1,446 receiving yards, and 49 overall touchdowns.
- Wideout Korey Robertson exploded in 2018. While Allenzae Staggers had a bit of of a disappointing senior season (he went from 1,157 receiving yards in 2018 to 471), Robertson erupted for 76 catches, 1,106 yards, and 12 ratings. Only 19 avid gamers have been centered no less than 120 instances in 2018 like Robertson, and simplest two of the ones blended a marginal potency of no less than plus-13 % and a marginal explosiveness of no less than zero.30 issues in line with play: Robertson and Texas Tech’s Keke Coutee.
With Robertson and Coutee long gone, the receiving corps has grew to become over to sophomores. Quez Watkins, Jaylond Adams, and Tim Jones all flashed large upside however produced the entire inconsistency you’d be expecting from learners. They blended for only a 50 % catch price however 18.Eight yards in line with catch.
Between this trio, JUCOs Neil McLaurin and DeMichael Harris, and possibly a decent finish like Jay’Shawn Washington, some potency choices want to be discovered. The explosiveness is plain.
Then there’s the topic of changing Smith. A trio of seniors will give it a shot.
- Tez Parks has been a task participant for 3 years, speeding for 583 yards (Five.1 in line with elevate) and catching 17 passes. He proved dynamic in the go back sport in 2018, nevertheless it hasn’t translated on offense simply but.
- George Payne returns after lacking 2018 with a hip damage. He has 940 profession yards, however simplest at Four.1 in line with elevate.
- T’Rod Daniels is intriguing. The JUCO switch carried simplest 21 instances ultimate 12 months however received 160 yards in the method. The Five’nine, 175-pounder brings large pace and may grow to be a fringe danger if both Parks or Payne can care for a tight load between the tackles.
Whoever wins the process will run at the back of a tight line. USM gave 35 begins to a freshman (guard Arvin Fletcher) and two sophomores (take on Drake Dorbeck, guard Ty Pollard) ultimate 12 months, and two of them (Fletcher and Dorbeck) ended up honorable point out all-conference.
Pecoraro’s protection was once most commonly superior. The Golden Eagles couldn’t comprise UNT’s unfold and were given outmuscled through Florida State however differently allowed simply 21.2 issues in line with sport and four.Eight yards in line with play. They have been 32nd in Def. S&P+, their best possible rating since 2018 (28th).
In 2018, USM boasted one of the vital skilled, disruptive mid-major fronts; 2018 was once no other. Four other linemen recorded no less than Five.Five tackles for loss, and 3 extra recorded no less than two. But 4 of those seven are long gone, together with main finish Xavier Thigpen and the highest two tackles, Rod Crayton and Draper Riley.
Ends Los angelesDarius Harris and Jacques Turner do go back after combining for 13 TFLs and 5 sacks, in order that’s one thing. But take on goes to be rebuilt round some mixture of upperclassmen Delmond Landry and Demarrio Smith (15 tackles, 3 TFLs ultimate 12 months), redshirt freshman Andrew Cole, and JUCOs Isaiah Johnson and Von’Darius Freeman. Johnson was once probably the most stars of the recruiting magnificence, and Freeman is huge, however that’s nonetheless a difficult place for rebuilding.
The Golden Eagles will nonetheless have probably the most convention’s best possible linebacking corps, no less than. Racheem Boothe (9 TFLs, Three.Five sacks) was once probably the most best possible learners in the rustic, Paxton Schrimsher (11 TFLs, Five.Five sacks) was once large in Pecoraro’s WOLF function, senior Jeremy Sangster is forged in his QB-of-the-defense function, and Sherrod Ruff had 11 TFLs in 2018 earlier than lacking 2018 with damage. That’s so much to choose between.
Can a few the ones linebackers play protection? Probably now not (regardless that, hello, Boothe was once simplest indexed at 210 kilos ultimate 12 months…), and that’s an issue. Of the seven DBs who logged greater than 10 tackles ultimate 12 months, simplest sophomore nook Rachaun Mitchell returns. The subsequent main tackler at CB is sophomore WyDale Flott, who had all of 3 stops.
The go back of nickel again Picasso Nelson Jr. from damage will assist, however simplest such a lot. There’s a ton of manufacturing to switch right here — the departed accounted for 19 TFLs, 9 INTs, and 40 breakups — and the enjoy is minimum. If sophomores like Mitchell, Flott, Tyler Barnes, and Kris Reed and JUCOs Ty Williams and Ky’el Hemby aren’t in a position to provide at a top degree (and it’s nearly unfair to be expecting them to), the drop-off may be immense.
And that’s with out bringing up the entire “spring practice is about to start, and they suddenly don’t have a coordinator” factor.
Southern Miss’ particular groups unit was once simply type of there in 2018. Not large, now not awful. Place-kicker Parker Shaunfield has a booming, if moderately scattershot, leg — he neglected two PATs and 3 box objectives below 40 yards however was once Four-for-Four past 40. Zac Everett was once nice as a freshman punter, and each Quez Watkins and T’Rod Daniels have been roughly nice as go back males. It’s onerous to understand what else to mention about a gorgeous non-descript unit, so we’ll simply transfer on.
2018 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|15-Sep||at Appalachian State||63||-10.Four||27%|
|13-Oct||at North Texas||86||-Four.nine||39%|
S&P+’s returning manufacturing measure puts heavy weight on continuity in the receiving corps and defensive backfield, as the ones two spots have a tendency to have the next have an effect on on year-to-year growth and regression. That’s an evident drawback for Southern Miss, which returns a lot of enjoy in some devices however will get detonated in the ones two.
As a end result, the Golden Eagles are projected to slide the entire method to 94th in S&P+, with a mean of 6.Three projected wins.
The agenda gifts some attention-grabbing probabilities, regardless that. Because of street video games in opposition to unhealthy groups and residential video games in opposition to respectable ones, USM has simplest two video games with a win likelihood beneath 30 %, 3 above 65, and a complete seven projected inside a landing by some means.
If the Golden Eagles are slightly higher than projected (and I’ve simply sufficient religion in their sophomores, and Hopson, to bet they will be), then 8 or 9 wins may be at the desk. A hair worse, they usually’re taking a look at Four-Eight or Five-7.
This sounds nerve-wracking, however welcome to Southern Miss soccer.