Despite the injuries, Larry Fedora has to expect more from his offense. When he came to USM, he brought with him the notion that Southern Miss could run a high octane offense. The only game where I have seen such was against the mighty power of Alcorn State. They will have to be much more productive if they want to have a successful second half.
It turns out that it might not be the Apocalypse now that Austin Davis is out for the season. Martevious Young did a fine job filling in for him against Louisville. Young was 22-30 for over 200 yards against the Cardinals, but failed to get the win. Despite the loss, there are really no problems to complain about when talking about his performance. He did the things that he needed to, Southern Miss just couldn't pull off the win.
I think that Martevious will do fine for the rest of this season, but one area that is scary is depth. What if Martevious goes down with an injury? Well, I guess they would have to pull the redshirt off of freshman Chris Campbell and throw him to the wolves. The staff thinks that he is capable of getting the job done, but it sure would be nice to let him keep his redshirt for the year.
Man, for an area that seemingly had so much talent and so much depth, it sure does seem average right now. They looked incredible for the first three games, but the last three they have looked anything, but incredible. Fletcher was out against UAB, but only gained 27 and 86 yards against KU and Louisville, respectively. Tory Harrison has not looked bad at all in the last two games, but has only seen limited action behind Fletcher. It is not the running back's fault, though. I think a lot of the blame can be put on the play calling and the O-Line. We all know what Fletcher can do if you give him space. However, the O-Line has not done much to get Fletcher in the open field.
I think the biggest surprise is the lack of carries for the backs behind Fletcher and Harrison. Lampley and Johnson dazzled in their first game (albeit vs. Alcorn State) but they have not seen much action from the running back position. Lampley is handling the majority of the return game now and has been nothing less than spectacular. However, Johnson has not seen one carry since his game versus Alcorn. Let me repeat that. Seven carries for 72 yards and a touchdown, and not ONE carry afterwards. There is probably a reason that I am unaware of, but, aside from his fumble problems, Desmond is a really good back. I hope to see him used more this season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Deandre Brown has looked good, considering he is coming off an injury. He has played in four games so far this year and there was only one game where he didn't do well. Despite only playing in those four games he still leads the team in receiving yards and is still the same guy that he was last season. If there is any reason that he is not producing as much right now it is because of the loss of Shawn Nelson. That took away the other big threat and allows teams to focus more heavily on him.
Aside from Deandre, the receivers have all looked pretty good. Gerald Baptiste continues to be Mr. Reliable and Freddie Parham and Quentin Pierce continue to do well whenever they get their touches. I think the most pleasant surprise is the emergence of Leroy Banks as a threat. Banks has been very productive in every game except for the UAB game. He is emerging as the go to guy in the Red Zone and third down situations.
O-Line The offensive line hasn't been terrible, but they haven't been overly impressive either. The pass protection has been ok at best, but they are only giving up two sacks a game. The area where they need the most improvement is in the run blocking. I don't know if I am alone in this, but it seems like Fletcher couldn't buy a hole to run through right now. The run game was very productive in the first three games, but now that they have faced some stiff competition, the Offensive Line has been disappointing in the running game. Maybe they can turn it around in the second half of the season.