Southern Miss had a long, three-game road stretch that saw them face SEC opponents Alabama and Mississippi State along with a scrappy Troy team. Despite going 1-2 during the road stretch, one has to believe that it made the team better. That theory was put to the test as the Eagles returned home and defeated visiting UTEP 31-13.
Following the bye-week, the Golden Eagles have focused on fundamentals, while looking toward North Texas and homecoming. One particular area that head coach Jay Hopson has focused on is defending the pass, where Southern Miss ranks 13th in the conference, giving up 267 yards per game.
“We’ve got the same guys that have been playing with us for two and a half years now. The few things are little details we have to correct. I thought we played better and we want to get better every week. I think this defense is maturing, and I think they’ll answer the call,” said Hopson.
It’s not a coincidence that Hopson wants to focus on his secondary since the Mean Green is led by the NCAA’s career passing leader in Mason Fine. Now a senior, Fine has thrown for 10,710 yards and 75 touchdowns in his career. And he has thrown for 1,293 yards and eleven touchdowns this season.
A positive note for Southern Miss is having Conference USA’s Player of the Week, Jack Abraham, at quarterback. Abraham threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns in Southern Miss’ victory against UTEP. The junior signal-caller has thrown for 1,515 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, setting up for a potential quarterback duel at The Rock.
Last season Southern Miss was defeated by North Texas 30-7. However, the Mean Green is giving up 30.4 points per game. Take away the 45-3 victory, and that number jumps to a whopping 37.25 points per game given up.
That should be good news for Southern Miss and their fans as the Golden Eagles are averaging 27.6 points per game through five games, up from their 26.2 points per game in 2018.