Week 7: Southern Mississippi

Jeff Bower has built a strong program at Southern Mississippi, and his Golden Eagles come to Raleigh looking to upset another high-major nonconference opponent.

BACKGROUND

Location: Hattiesburg, Miss.

Enrollment: 11,779

Nickname: Golden Eagles

School Colors: Black & Gold

Stadium: M.M. Roberts (41,300)

Conference: Big 12

 

TEAM

Head Coach: Jeff Bower

Record at SMU: 96-67-1 (14 years)

2004 Record: 7-5 (5-3)

2004 Bowl: New Orleans vs. N. Texas (W, 31-10)

Starters Returning: 12 (5 offense, 7 defense)

2005 Record: 4-2

2005 AP Ranking: None

Southern Miss. Game Notes

Conference USA Defensive Players of the Year
With the selection of Michael Boley as the 2004 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Golden Eagles have had the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year in six of the nine years since the league's formation in 1996.

Rod Davis was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year last season, marking the first Golden Eagle named since Cedric Scott was tabbed the Conference USA Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2000.

Patrick Surtain was selected for the award in 1997, and Adalius Thomas was tabbed for the honor in 1998 and 1999. The only years that Southern Miss didn't have a player named as the defensive player of the year was 1996, 2001 and 2002.

Shutouts
The 3-0 victory against UAB in 2001 marked the last shutout for the Golden Eagle defense and first since the 21-0 victory at Alabama during the 2000 season. Since Bower arrived in December 1990, Southern Miss has pitched seven shutouts, one every season from 1995-2001.

Bower Claims 100th Win
Head Coach Jeff Bower earned the 100th victory of his coaching career with the Golden Eagles' 37-28 victory over UAB on Oct. 21. In his 15th season, Bower, a three-time Conference USA Coach of the Year has coached 170 games, posting a 100-69-1 (.588) record during that span. The Conference USA Coach of the Decade has guided Southern Miss to 11 straight winning seasons and seven bowl appearances in the last eight years.

Win No. 50
With its 37-28 victory over UAB, Southern Miss earned its 50th Conference USA win since the league was formed in 1996. Southern Miss is now 50-15 (.769) in league games.

Everyone's All-American
For eight-straight years, Southern Miss has produced at least one All- American as three Golden Eagles received that honor in 2004. Michael Boley was named to the ABC/Cingular All-American Team (FWAA) (1st team), All- American Football Foundation (1st Team), Associated Press (2nd team), SI.com (2nd team), Walter Camp Football Foundation (2nd team), Sporting News (2nd team) and CollegeFootballNews.com (2nd team). John Eubanks and Darren McCaleb were named honorable-mention All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com.

Conference Tradition
Southern Miss has only had conference football affiliation for 13 years of its program's 88-year history.

The Golden Eagles were members of the Gulf States Conference from 1948-51 and have been a founding member of Conference USA in 1996.

In the 13 years of conference affiliation, Southern Miss has won seven conference championships, three in the Gulf States Conference and four in CUSA. Southern Miss won the Gulf States Championship in 1948, 1950 and 1951 and Conference USA in 1996 (shared), 1997, 1999 and 2003.

Classroom Achievement
For the third year in a row, the Southern Miss football program was recognized for its student-athlete graduation rate by the American Football Coaches Association. Only 30 schools across the nation were recognized for graduating 70 percent or higher of their football players this past year and in 2004, 29 institutions were recognized for graduating 70 percent or more of their football players and 32 institutions were recognized in 2003. No other institution in the states of Mississippi, Alabama or Louisiana was recognized and Memphis was the only other school from Conference USA to be honored. Southern Miss finished with 76 percent graduation rate in 2003, 81 percent in 2004 and 80 percent in 2005.

Twenty-five football players were named to the academic honor rolls for the 2004-05 academic year. Six players were named to the President's List or the Dean's List and 19 other players were named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll. In addition to the Southern Miss and Memphis, others receiving honorable mention with a rate of 70 percent or better include Ball State, Bowling Green, Duke, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Marshall, Maryland, Miami-Florida, Miami-Ohio, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Rice, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Western Michigan. The study involves the freshman class from the academic year of 1999- 00, including those who entered at that time but who did not receive financial aid until after their initial year, or who transferred from another institution and subsequently received a grant-in-aid.

Almond Sets Personal Mark For Touchdowns
Southern Miss quarterback Dustin Almond posted the fourth-multiple touchdown game of this season against UAB (10/21), as he completed 18-of- 33 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns. His three touchdown performance gave him 14 for the season, a career-high for touchdowns in a season.

The UAB game marked the fourth time in his career that he finished with over three touchdowns in a game, as he threw three against Louisiana-Lafayette (11/ 1/03), three against TCU (11/20/03) and five against UCF (10/15/05). It was also the fourth multiple touchdown game for Almond this season and 14th of his career.

Thomas Hits Century Mark Again
Redshirt sophomore Larry Thomas posted the second 100-yard game of his career against UAB, finishing with a career-high 28 carries for 129 yards, an average of 4.6 yards per carry. In his first year as a full-time starter, Thomas leads the team in rushing with 406 yards on 105 carries, averaging 3.9 yards per carry. He also has 12 receptions for 104 yards on the season.

First Down Southern Miss
Southern Miss finished with 24 first downs against UAB, the third-most this season. They had a season-high 30 against McNeese State and followed that with 26 at East Carolina.

The 30 against McNeese State, marked the most first downs since the Golden Eagles finished with 31 first downs against Memphis (9/14/02).

The 14 rushing first downs against McNeese State were the most since Southern Miss finished with 18 against East Carolina in 2004. The 14 passing first downs at East Carolina were the most since the Golden Eagles had 17 against Tulane in 2001. The six first downs by penalty was the most since becoming a member of Conference USA in 1996. Southern Miss had five first downs by penalty against Houston in 1996 and 1998.

Third and Fourth Down
Southern Miss has converted 43.9 percent (36/82) of its third-down attempts this season and 14.3 percent (1/7) on fourth down. On third down, the Golden Eagles are 9-of-22 during the first quarter, 7-of-17 during the second quarter, 11-of-20 during the third quarter and 9-of-23 in the fourth quarter. Southern Miss is currently No. 26 in the nation in third-down efficiency.

Southern Miss' opponents are completing 42.0 percent (34/81) of its thirddown attempts, 10-of-20 in the first quarter, 11-of-28 in the second quarter, 6-of-17 in the third quarter and 7-of- 16 in the fourth quarter. The Golden Eagles' opponents are 7-of-9 (77.8) on their fourth-down attempts.

In the Red Zone
The Southern Miss offense has scored 23-of-25 times (92.0) in the red zone this season, scoring 130 points. The Golden Eagles have scored 15 touchdowns (seven rushing, eight passing) and have kicked eight field goals. Southern Miss' opponents have scored 76.0 percent (19/25) of their times in the red zone, scored 15 touchdowns and kicking four field goals. The Golden Eagle defense has forced two missed field goals and three fumbles.

Press Conference Quotables

Jeff Bower
Opening Statement:
"I'm proud of our players and how we played in the game. I think we played hard in the game. We came out and dominated defensively. We had a good first quarter. We were able to stop the run and blitz the quarterback. UAB made some adjustments and did a good job. Darrell Hackney ended up getting a hot hand, especially in the second half. They did a nice job driving on us right before the half, to make the score 17-7. We didn't play very well offensively in the second quarter after getting off to a fast start. We didn't cover well at times. Hackney is very accurate and has a lot of talent. He's a very good quarterback. Sometimes we covered well, but he put the ball right where it was supposed to be. We kept coming back offensively. We responded with scores when they scored. We stayed on the field when we had to. Our last drive of the game was impressive, which we got a field goal out of. We ran the football well, especially in that last drive. Darren McCaleb's three field goals were huge in the game. I thought Dustin Almond played well. We had some young kids step up. Joe Singleton came in and did a good job. Ed Morgan played well. He didn't have a reception, but he blocked well for us. Eddie Willingham filled in for Caleb Hendrix and did a good job. Josh Barnes had a nice game. Chris Johnson made some more big catches and Shawn Nelson made some plays. We had some guys step up with a few of starters being out. It was good to see them do that."

Players Of The Week:
"On offense, it was George Batiste. He had 70 snaps and graded 81 percent. He had three pancakes, a cut and five knockdowns. He played really physical in the game. Caleb Hendrix was the defensive player of the week. He played 41 snaps and graded 83 percent. He had a quarterback pressure, a sack, had two tackles, one assist, one pass break-up. He was playing well when he got hurt. On special teams, it was Darren McCaleb. He was 4-of-4 on extra points and made all three field goals of 47, 44 and 20 yards. He did a nice job."

On Injuries:
We're ok. I don't know the status about Caleb Hendrix. We'll have to see how he responds and if he can do anything this week. I don't know what the status will be on Tavarres Williams and Pedi Causey. We'll get a look at those guys and we'll have a better idea after today's practice."

On N.C. State:
"They are a talented team. Their record doesn't indicate how good they are. They had Virginia Tech on the ropes and had a chance to win that game. The thing that has hurt this team the most is penalties and turnovers. They've played well enough to win if they don't do some of those things. They have a very good defense. Their front four are very good and preseason publications had their defensive line as the best in the country. They are really good there. They have active linebackers. They will pressure you a lot and play a lot of man coverage. Offensively, they throw the ball more than they run it. They have good skill people. They're big up front. They're having problems at quarterback. They played two against Wake Forest. In the Wake Forest game, they had two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Wake only had about 220 yards of total offense in the game. That's an indication on what's happened to him. They've played well enough to win, but mistakes and turnovers have hurt them. I think they are very good in the kicking game. Looking at the kickoff return unit, it looks like a highlight tape. They are first in the country in kickoff return. They are good there. They are also good at rushing the punter and they're good in special teams. It will be a big game for us. They are a talented football team. We've got to have a great week."

On If Jasper Faulk Replaces Caleb Hendrix If He Can't Play:
"I don't know. We haven't really talked about it. Eddie Willingham did a nice job of filling in for him. As far as depth there, Jasper can play corner or safety. We'll have to see from an injury standpoint where we are, and make some adjustments."

On Dustin Almond's Play:
"He understands that has to play well for us to be what we want to be. He has done that. I think he's worked hard during the week and prepared himself. Our offensive line has done a good job of giving him some protection. That's been a big key. He's made throws. He's played really well for us the past few weeks."

On Developing Consistency In The Past Two Games:
"It's positive, but you can't call yourself a good player or team until you play well consistently. We'll see what we do this week."

On The Offensive Line:
"They've played well. We had a few busts in the UAB game because they shifted on us. We need to continue to make progress in the running game. Larry Thomas ran hard in the game. I was glad to see us run the football like we did. We need to continue to make progress up front and knock people off the ball so we can have more balance on offense."

On If The Team Did Anything Different Defensively In The Second Half Against UAB:
"I think they made some adjustments. Hackney was hot too. We didn't contain him a few times and he got out and hurt us. We didn't change anything that we were doing. We were mixing it up, dropping eight and sometimes blitzing. When you play a quarterback like that, you've got to give him different looks. We didn't cover very well. We also gave up some big plays. They had two big plays that weren't mental errors, but we just didn't cover well. John Eubanks should've got inside on the slant route and Brandon Sumrall didn't run with his man. Those are the things we need to improve on."

On If The Four Game Road Stretch Is Tough Mentally For The Players:
"No. We knew what we had to do a few weeks back. That's part of it. We're not going to make excuses. We're going to get ourselves ready to go. We know that if we want to have the kind of year we want to have, we've got to be good on the road and we will have to win on the road."

On Larry Thomas:
"I thought he was playing well. He was running hard and playing well. We wanted to keep him in the game."

On What Has Pleased And Disappointed Him So Far This Season:
"I'm disappointed we've given up some big plays in the passing game. That's been around all-year long. I'm pleased with the way some of our young kids have stepped in and responded and played with our injuries."

On Josh Barnes:
"He gets better every week. He's a hard worker. We've developed a lot of confidence based on what he's done in the past few weeks."

Southern Miss. Two-Deep Depth Chart

Offense Defense

SE 13 Anthony Perine (5-11/174/Jr.) DE 47 Matthew Chatelain (6-2/245/r-Jr.)

2 Damion Carter (6-2/193/Jr.) 96 Ken Griffith (6-3/275/Jr.)

LT 75 Chris Clark (6-4/280/r-So.) NT 90 Tom Johnson (6-3/277/Sr.)

63 Wesley Housley (6-2/283/r-Fr.) 94 Ryan Watson (6-2/271/rSo.)

LG 55 Travis Cooley (6-2/285/r-Jr.) DT 95 Terrance Ford (6-1/300/Sr.)

54 Kendel Wheeler (6-2/301/r-Sr.) 97 Martavius Prince (6-3/278/r-So.)

C 56 Robby D'Angelo (6-1/277/r-Jr..) BAN 50 Akeem Lockett (6-2/250/Sr.)

76 Ricardo Clark (6-1/291/Sr.) 91 Robert Henderson (6-3/266/r-So.)

RG 70 George Batiste (6-5/309/r-Jr.) SLB 22 James Denley (6-2/223/r-So.)

71 Bradley Worthington (6-4/303/r-Sr.) 33 Tokumbo Abanikanda (6-0/205/Fr.)

RT 73 Neal Mead (6-4/314/r-Sr.) MLB 45 Kevis Coley (6-1/228/r-Sr.)

66 Ryan McKee (6-6/270/Fr) 42 Mitch Craft (6-1/224/r-Fr.)

TE 83 Shawn Nelson (6-5/225/r-Fr.) WLB 27 Wayne Hardy (6-0/223/r-Jr.)

84 Pedi Causey (6-3/244/Sr.) 34 Marcus Raines (6-3/240/Jr.)

or 48 Jonathan Palmer (6-3/248/r-Jr.)

FL 19 Josh Barnes (5-10/191/Jr.) FC 14 Caleb Hendrix (5-10/185/Jr.)

88 Joe Singleton (6-3/195/Fr.) or 23 Eddie Willingham (5-10/172/r-Fr.)

21 Jasper Faulk (5-10/183/r-Jr.)

WR 87 Chris Johnson (6-0/172/r-So.) ROV 6 Brandon Sumrall (5-11/185/So.)

25 Adam Hurst(5-10/179/r-Jr.) 20 Ladarius Webb (5-10/164/r-Fr.)

QB 9 Dustin Almond (6-2/214/r-Sr.) FS 18 Trevis Coley (6-1/221/r-Sr.)

10 Jeremy Young (6-3/210/r-So.) 21 Jasper Faulk (5-10/183/r-Jr.)

FB 33 Bobby Weakley (5-10/241/Jr.) BC 1 John Eubanks (5-11/175/r-Sr.)

40 Cole Mason (6-2/232/r-Fr.) 23 Eddie Willingham (5-10/172/r-Fr.)

RB 8 Larry Thomas (6-0/197/r-So.)

28 Cody Hull (5-11/195/r-So.)

PK 16 Darren McCaleb (5-11/165/Jr.) P 17 Luke Johnson (6-0/240/r-Sr.)

3 Britt Barefoot (6-0/174/So.) 3 Britt Barefoot (6-0/174/So.)

KO 17 Luke Johnson (6-0/240/r-Sr.) LSN 51 Stephen Daigle (6-0/221/Jr.)

60 Cody Tawater (6-4/235/Fr.)

SSN 51 Stephen Daigle (6-0/220/So.)

H 17 Luke Johnson (6-0/240/r-Sr.) 60 Cody Tawater (6-4/235/Fr.)

KR 1 John Eubanks (5-11/175/r-Sr.) PR 21 Jasper Faulk (5-10/183/r-Jr.)

8 Larry Thomas (6-0/197/So.) 1 John Eubanks (5-11/175/r-Sr.)


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