Roy Burkhart

We break down the match-up between TXST and Southern Miss

It's only Week 3, but Saturday's showdown with Southern Mississippi is a big game for Texas State. It will be a measuring stick as the 'Cats get closer to opening up Sun Belt Play. BI intern Tyler Hammond, gives us the breakdown in this week's "Game Preview."

The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles come to San Marcos holding a 1-1 record, defeating Austin Peay last week, but losing 34-16 to Mississippi State the first weekend of the season. Last year the Golden Eagles finished 3-9, with only one win coming in conference. Southern Miss is a member of Conference USA.

At this point in the season, Southern Miss has had a fairly balanced offense; they average 170 yards rushing and 293 yards passing per game. On defense, the Golden Eagles are only allowing an average of 20 points per game to their opponents. The biggest strength for the team has been their pass coverage, only giving up a total of 330 yards in the air through the first two games. Though the pass coverage has been strong, opponents of the Golden Eagles have racked up a total of 352 yards rushing, something Coach Franchione and the offensive coaching staff are sure to try to exploit.

Led by quarterback (Jr.) Nick Mullens, Southern Mississippi runs a spread offense featuring one running back, three wide receivers and a tight end. On the defensive side of the ball, they run a 4-3 but have a nose tackle, Andrew Bolton (Sr.), who is listed at 6’3’’ 305 pounds.

Key Players

Quarterback (Jr.) Nick Mullens is a three year starter in the offense. He currently holds a 62% completion percentage with five total touchdowns and three interceptions. Against a strong Mississippi State team, Mullens completed 68% of his passes for over 300 yards, but had two interceptions. He has several weapons on offense that he spreads the ball around to.

Running back (Soph.) Ito Smith has been a big play threat for the Golden Eagles throughout the first two games. He's run for 204 yards on only 18 attempts. His two biggest plays of the season are a 75 yard run and a 49 yard reception, which he scored a touchdown on each play. At 5’9’’ 195 pounds, the Texas State defense has to keep an eye on this quick, big play threat.

Defensive End (Jr.) Dylan Bradley has been a force on the defensive line this season for the Golden Eagles. He has nine total tackles, with four of them being TFL's and two sacks. Last year as a sophomore, Bradley made four starts and played in eight games.

Texas State Keys to Victory

Through the first two games, the Bobcats have allowed their opponents to convert 50% of third down attempts. This, along with more-sure tackling have been the biggest issues for the defense. For the Bobcats to secure a victory, the defense will need to get Southern Mississippi off of the field on third downs and establish a strong running attack from the first drive. The Golden Eagles have shown they are susceptible to an effective ground game, so look for Coach Franchione to provide a heavy dose of Rob Lowe and Chris Nutall. If Texas State can win the time of possession battle and improve their third down defense, they will have a good chance at coming out on top.

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