QB Nick Mullens
Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens is one of the top passers in the country and the senior from Hoover, Ala. does a fantastic job operating the Golden Eagles' attack. Mullens briefly left last week's game against UTSA when he hit his thumb on the top of a lineman's helmet on a throw, but appears to be ready to go for Saturday. Passing for over 300 yards per game and completing nearly 60 percent of his passes, the 6-1, 196-pound Mullens will strain a defense and attack 1-on-1 coverage often. Mullens will be similar to Missouri quarterback Drew Lock in that he's not that mobile, which bodes well for LSU's pass rush. Getting to him quickly will be a key.
RB Ito Smith
Sure, LSU running back Derrius Guice averages over eight yards per carry, but Smith is not slouch, averaging nearly six yards per carry for the Golden Eagles. Where LSU also has to watch Smith though is out of the backfield. Smith is averaging nearly 10 yards a catch. LSU has to limit Smith's production on first down as the back is averaging almost seven yards per carry on first down runs. That helps Southern Miss get in manageable situations. Last year, Smith was one of two backs to rush for 1,000 yards for Southern Miss, but this year, it's Smith's show and LSU will have to slow him down.
Anytime you have a receiver averaging 25 yards per catch, you have to keep an eye on him. Staggers is doing just that as Southern Miss' go-to receiver. On third downs, Staggers has six first downs on seven receptions on the year so Mullens will look his way often when he needs a play to be made as all six of those receptions have gone for 15 yards or more. The 6-1, 190-pound receiver had a huge game against Rice with 292 yards and three touchdowns. Kentucky limited him to just two catches for 46 yards and LSU will have to do a similar job against Staggers to make Southern Miss one dimensional.
39 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and five sacks in six games. Bradley is Southern Miss' playmaker along the defensive line and the Tigers will have to do a great job against him to open up lanes for Guice and LSU's running backs to work. With Andy Dodd making his first start at center, he'll have to know where the 6-1, 265-pound defensive lineman is at all times.
Playing behind Bradley at the second level of Southern Miss' attacking defense is Antoine, who has 36 tackles on the year. The 6-0, 215-pound New Orleans native is looking to build off a game that he had just four tackles in. The former Trinity Valley CC player moved from the secondary to linebacker for Southern Miss this season and runs the attacking Southern Miss defense that loves to bring the heat. Antoine certainly has speed to make plays sideline-to-sideline and LSU will have to be aware of where he is at all times.