What we learned: Southern Miss

ECU dismantled the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles inside of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium yesterday 55-14. Inside ECU Sports has a look at what this game taught us about the team.

It's hard to learn anything from a game that was so one-sided, but the Pirates' resounding win over Southern Miss proved the Golden Eagles were as bad as advertised and proved ECU has the ability to recover from an ugly loss (Tulane) and get back on track.

ECU came into the game a 20-point favorite and didn't let the Golden Eagles hang around. The Pirates methodically ran their offense with precision and amassed close to 500 yards and over 50 points.

The Golden Eagles didn't score an offensive touchdown until 11:38 left in the game when ECU had nearly all of its back-ups on defense.

The Pirates were dominant on all sides of the ball. Another thing this win taught me is that ECU can execute and sustain against a lesser team – rather than play down to the level of competition.

"We felt if we executed properly and took advantages of opportunities we'd be fine," head coach Ruffin McNeill said. "The biggest advantage today was all three sides playing together. Example: great kickoff coverage, defense holds forcing a punt, great return and then offense ends the play with a kick whether it's a field goal or an extra point. They did it a number of times which is what we're shooting for so I was proud."

After scoring only one touchdown on six trips to the red zone against Tulane last week, ECU scored on all four of its first red zone appearances yesterday – all of which came on third down.

"It was huge to get those touchdowns in the red zone," true freshman wide receiver Isaiah Jones said. "It was also huge to get it in the beginning of the game because it helped our confidence a lot. We struggled last week, but putting those points up early helped us finish throughout the game."

Jones had a big game for ECU. He caught the second touchdown of the game and proved to be a reliable ‘safety valve' for Carden showing fans he may be a household name moving forward.

As far as defense goes, Southern Miss became just the second team this season to rush for over 100 yards on the Pirates. With that being said, the Golden Eagles only had 121 yards on 36 carries (3.4 yards per carry) – a lot of which came in the second half against ECU's back-up players.

While we didn't learn a lot of knew things about the defense from this game, one thing is for sure senior free safety Damon Magazu is having a great season. Magazu has picked off a pass in each of the last three games.

"When the play comes to you, you have to make it," Magazu said. "Forcing plays is when you mess up. As long as you do your job you'll be fine and that's what we've all been doing. When it's my turn I try to make it to the best of my abilities.

Wide receiver Justin Hardy added another big game to his Biletnikoff award campaign. He had 10 catches for 126 yards and a beautiful one-handed touchdown grab.

After the game Hardy talked about the award and how he's dealing with the hype.

"I just have to play within myself," Hardy said. "I'm really not paying attention to it I'm just playing my game like I know how to play it."

ECU's win over Southern Miss didn't teach fans or members of the media anything they didn't already know. It was a win that ECU needed after an ugly los to Tulane and a win that makes it clear this Pirate team plans to continue rolling after its second bye week of the season.

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