Southern Miss prep work has begun

Still nine days away, Nebraska began to game prep for Southern Miss on Thursday.

Lincoln, NE - Nebraska still has two more practices before they have their first game week of the year, but Southern Miss game prep has begun a little early.

Defensive coordinator John Papuchis told reporters on Thursday that the coaching staff started to introduce the Golden Eagles to the Huskers, even letting players work against a scout team.

"I thought me and (Daimion) Stafford were going to get into it the last couple of days, because he really wants to hit somebody," secondary coach Terry Joseph said. "I told him we still got nine days, but it's good to get an early look at September 1st and give them an understanding it's close."

Papuchis working with defensive lineman

Southern Miss is coming off one of their best years in program history, winning 12 contests in 2011, but feature a new quarterback and head coach.

Ellis Johnson, the former South Carolina defensive coordinator, takes over for Larry Fedora, who moved on to North Carolina.

"You turn over every rock, look at the resources that are out there and use your best judgment," Papuchis told reporters on game planning for a new coaching staff. "We're not going to know exactly what they're going to try to do coming in here, but we're going to try to get the best idea we can possibly get from all their coaches' backgrounds. We're going to get a feel for what they do and hope that we've taught enough lessons throughout the course of spring ball and fall camp that we apply them next week."

Southern Miss will likely turn to Chris Campbell as their starting quarterback. But the junior has yet to take a snap in a game, meaning there could be opportunities for other quarterbacks behind him to play in certain situations. The list includes freshman Anthony Alford, a four-star prospect who Nebraska also offered last year.

"He likes the ball in his hands in space," Joseph said of Alford to the Omaha World Herald on Thursday. "We just gotta make sure we get enough people around him and reduce the space and get him on the ground."

Whoever the Golden Eagles use, new Southern Miss offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle is excited the direction his offense is headed.

"I think about the last five practices we have really honed down on some things that we are going to do and we have worked really hard on our running game as we focus on the plays we are going to run in that first game," Bustle told "I'm really excited where we are.

"I really think we have a lot of play makers on this offense. We are still working those QB's and the good thing is that they are all doing well. It is really still kind of a race, and we've got three guys that can all play for us."

Big Red Report will have plenty more on the Golden Eagles in the next few days.

Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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