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        ***** NCAA Football Preview - Southern Miss Golden Eagles *****
 
 By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
 
 2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Ellis Johnson had a very brief tenure as the head coach
 of the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss failed to collect a single win in 2012,
 just one season after the team finished 12-2, including a victory over
 Nebraska in the Hawaii Bowl.
 
 Southern Miss had a couple of close calls in 2012 as it lost to Louisville by
 four points, UCF in double overtime and to Texas-El Paso but just one point.
 It lost eight of its games by double-digit margins, including lopsided
 setbacks to Nebraska, Western Kentucky, Rice, Marshall and SMU.
 
 The Golden Eagles had their streak of 10 consecutive bowl appearances come to
 an end, and although that was somewhat expected, Johnson was fired because of
 the disastrous campaign. Former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd
 Monken was handed the reins to the program in a much different Conference USA.
 
 "We said going into this search that we wanted to find a dynamic leader with
 the character to lead our program back to prominence, so," said athletic
 director Jeff Hammond. "I believe today, with the hiring of Todd Monken, we
 have accomplished that. With his extensive background at some of the premier
 programs in college football and in the NFL, we believe he is perfectly
 positioned to return the Golden Eagles to competing both in Conference USA and
 in the national spotlight."
 
 The Cowboys ranked in the top five in the FBS in both total offense and
 scoring offense in each of the past two seasons with Monken as their
 coordinator.
 
 2013 ANALYSIS:
 
 OFFENSE: No one managed to fill the shoes of Austin Davis last season which
 led to a stagnant offensive performance by Southern Miss. Five different
 players saw action under center and freshman Anthony Alford, who led the team
 in pass attempts, transferred to Ole Miss after the winless campaign. Senior
 Chris Campbell and sophomore Ricky Lloyd both started multiple games last
 season. Lloyd, who tore his ACL midway through last season, is more likely to
 start because his pocket passer style is more fitting for Monken's spread
 offense. Redshirt freshman Kyle Sloter could get a chance to be a leader right
 away if Lloyd doesn't succeed.
 
 Sophomore tailback Jalen Richard will be the go-to-guy on the ground after
 picking up 426 yards on 87 carries in 2012. Senior Jeremy Hester returned
 kickoffs his first two seasons before moving to a backup running position
 under Johnson. Hester is the second leading rusher (196 yards) among
 returners.
 
 It was tough to evaluate the USM wideouts last season due to the
 ineffectiveness under center. Senior Dominique Sullivan paced the squad with
 331 yards and three touchdown on 19 catches. Fellow senior Justin Sims (5-7,
 165) is tough to bring down in the open field after a catch but needs to line
 up in the slot because of he is undersized for the position. The Golden
 Eagles' wideouts may not have too much time to run their routes again this
 season as the offensive line that gave up 2.5 sacks per game last season needs
 to replace four starters.
 
 DEFENSE: The defensive unit was not any more impressive than the offense,
 although it had to be difficult maintaining intensity due to the abnormally
 high number of reps. USM was 83rd in the nation in total defense with 426.5
 yards allowed per game and 113th in scoring defense with an allowed average of
 37.8 ppg.
 
 While superstar defensive end Jamie Collins will be tough to replace, the
 Golden Eagles have three starters returning to the defensive line including
 senior defensive tackle Khyrl Thornton (6-4, 308), who is an all-conference
 candidate after registering 9.5 tackles for loss in 2012. Junior nose tackle
 Rakeem Nunez-Roches (6-2, 290) could also play a big role in the rebuilding
 process as he is able to provide a consistent burst on the interior.
 
 USM will also have back all three of its starting linebackers in seniors Dylan
 Reda (6-1, 230), Alan Howze (6-3, 227) and Jerrion Johnson (6-0, 205). Howze
 registered 66 total tackles as a junior which makes him the team's leading
 returner in that category.
 
 "We've got more experience (in the defensive backfield) with guys who have
 played a lot of football. The confidence comes across a little more. Our
 secondary will be a strength, between Jacorious Cotton, Deron Wilson, Jerrion
 Johnson, Emmanuel Johnson Kalen Reed and Alex Walters. There are a lot of guys
 who have played. So those guys are confident. We're just trying to get
 better."
 
 Wilson is the only returning starter in the defensive backfield. He does have
 four interception returns for scores in his career and also a punt return
 touchdown. The group will have to find a way to make more plays as USM managed
 to pick off only five passes total in 2012 with no player intercepting more
 than one pass. Cotton has seen a fair share of action throughout his career
 with the black and gold which will make him one of the leaders of the defense
 for his senior year.
 
 SPECIAL TEAMS: The speedy Sims is expected to be the main weapon for the
 Golden Eagles in the return game. His size, or lack there of, and his uncanny
 ability to accelerate keeps pursuing tacklers off-balance in the open field.
 
 Sophomore punter Matthew Moseley is going to be given the chance to take over
 the fourth and long duties for the departing Peter Boehme, who was a four-year
 starter. Moseley set a school record with a 73-yard punt in 2011. Place kicker
 Corey Acosta drilled both of his attempts from beyond 50 yards last season,
 but went just 11-of-17 for the year. If his kicking accuracy catches up to his
 power, he could contend for a spot on the All-Conference team.
 
 OUTLOOK: There is little doubt that Southern Miss will find a way to produce a
 more successful season in 2013 as it has a few of its easier matchups at home
 at Roberts Stadium.
 
 The Golden Eagles could end their current losing slide right away when they
 kickoff their season in Hattiesburg against Texas State on the final day of
 August. They will then have a trio of tough non-conference road bouts at
 Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State. USM opens up its C-USA slate at home
 against new member FIU before it hits the road to take on East Carolina, which
 is projected to be one of the top teams in the league. It then has another
 home game versus North Texas before a two-game road swing with stops at
 Marshall and Louisiana Tech. The Golden Eagles will close out their season
 with tilts against Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee at Roberts Stadium
 and a regular-season finale against UAB at Legion Field.
 
 Monken is not going to be able to resurrect the program instantly as the
 pieces are not in place to properly run his fast-paced offensive system. The
 Golden Eagles could finish around the .500 mark if the current members of the
 squad are able to grasp the basics of the new system.
 
 
 
 08/19 09:32:03 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 0
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
CHC 1
CIN 4
Final
PIT 3
MIL 5
Final
WAS 3
STL 1
Final
CLE 2
TOR 3
Final
DET 6
ANA 11
Final
NYM 0
ATL 6
Final
BOS 4
BAL 8
Final
TAM 11
NYY 5
Final
MIA 8
SEA 4
Final
TEX 12
CWS 0
Final
KAN 5
MIN 0
Final
COL 12
PHI 1
Final
OAK 11
HOU 3
Final
LOS 2
ARI 4
Final
SDP 2
SFG 1
1:05pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:35pm Today
BOS
BAL
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
 
8:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
 
8:10pm Tonight
COL
PHI
 
8:40pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
 
12:30pm Today
TOR
BRK
3:30pm Today
LAC
GSW
7:00pm Tonight
IND
ATL
9:30pm Tonight
OKC
MEM
Final
TAM 1
MON 4
Final
BOS 0
DET 1
Final
ANA 3
DAL 2
3:00pm Today
STL
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
9:30pm Tonight
COL
MIN
Final
NOR 0
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR