EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 18th in a series of previews on Marshall and West Virginia football opponents.
Date with Marshall: Saturday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m. EST, American Sports Network (WCHS, Channel 8 or WVAH, Channel 11 in Charleston-Huntington)
Site: M.M. Roberts Stadium (36,000, Momentum Turf), Hattiesburg, Miss.
Series: Southern Miss leads series 5-4
Last meeting: Marshall 61, Southern Miss 13, Nov. 2, 2013 at Huntington
Coach: Todd Monken (second year, 1-11)
Checking them out
The misery index of this proud program reached 23 consecutive losses until the Golden Eagles took out their frustrations on Alabama-Birmingham to the tune of 62-27.
So does that provide lasting momentum for the Todd Monken regime? Will the Eagles do better against the Herd than the 59-24 and 61-13 beatdowns the past two years?
Probably, as the Eagles are a more veteran group with eight starters back on each side of the ball. Nick Mullens, who had his first 300-yard game against the Herd, is a solid quarterback, though he has to improve his completion rate (49.3 percent) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (13-14).
Kendrick Hardy is gone from the backfield, and it’s time for Jalen Richard to step up his game. Tyre’oune Holmes (53 catches, 410 yards, two TDs) and Markese Triplett (33-528, four TDs) are the recognizable names at receiver, but D.J. Thompson could turn into the speedster Southern Miss has been missing.
Defense, the calling card of the better Southern Miss teams, was wretched last year. In one three-game stretch, the Eagles suffered consecutive 55-14 losses, followed by Marshall’s 61-13 rout. The total-yardage tally was a numbing 1,641.
Good news on this front is the return of tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches, linebacker Alan Howze and safety Jacorius Cotton, all sidelined in 2013.
Offense: WR Markese Triplett, WR Tyre’oune Holmes, WR D.J. Johnson
Defense: S Jacorius Cotton
The Eagles were outscored 309-78 in the first half of games last year and outgained by an average of 95 total yards. The deficit at Marshall was 335-201. … When the Eagles put up 62 points against UAB, that outscored their previous four games. … Here’s a little pressure: After Southern Miss opens with Mississippi State, Alcorn State and Alabama, it hosts FBS newbie Appalachian State. Lose that one, and then what?
DATE OPPONENT 2013
Aug. 30 at Mississippi State DNP
Sept. 6 Alcorn State DNP
Sept. 13 at Alabama DNP
Sept. 20 Appalachian State DNP
Sept. 27 Rice* DNP
Oct. 4 at Middle Tennessee* L 21-42
Oct. 18 at North Texas* L 14-55
Oct. 25 Louisiana Tech* L 13-36
Nov. 1 at Texas-El Paso* DNP
Nov. 8 Marshall* L 13-61
Nov. 13 (Thur) at Texas-San Antonio* DNP
Nov. 29 UAB* W 62-27
* Conference USA games
2013 record: 1-11, 1-7 (tie-5th place, East Division)
Dropped: Texas State (L 15-22), Nebraska (L 13-56), Arkansas (L 3-24), Boise State (L 7-60), Florida International (L 23-24), East Carolina (L 14-55), Florida Atlantic (L 7-41), UAB (W 62-27)