Southern Miss Head Coach Ellis Johnson is in his first season with the Golden Eagle program. Three games into the 2012 season, Johnson is still looking for his first win. This is the first time Southern Miss has started the season 0-3 since 1976. What makes matters worse for Coach Johnson is the fact that nobody really understands why Southern Miss is so bad. Outside of the quarterback position, the Golden Eagles return quite a bit from last year’s team that went 12-2 and won the Hawaii Sheridan Bowl. Losing to Nebraska 49-20 on their home field isn’t a huge deal, but losing to East Carolina at home by 10 and getting blown out at Western Kentucky isn’t something that sits well with the Southern Miss fan base. The Golden Eagles were projected to finish in second place this season in Conference USA.
Redshirt freshman Ricky Lloyd will get his first start tomorrow night against Louisville. Although Lloyd won the job by default due to injury, he played solid down the stretch against Western Kentucky, completing 5-of-6 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. However, those numbers came against WKU’s second string defense. Senior running back Desmond Johnson leads the Golden Eagles rushing attack. Johnson has quite a bit of experience, but was injured for most of last season. Johnson had a big game against Louisville in the 2010 Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl, rushing for 102 yards on 10 carries. Senior wide receiver Tracy Lampley was a preseason All Conference USA selection, but hasn’t had great start to the 2012 season. Lampley has just five catches for 82 yards. That could be due to the current quarterback situation for the Golden Eagles. If Louisville’s defense has a tough time containing the Southern Miss offense, we may need to hit the panic button. The Golden Eagles haven’t scored more than 20 points in a game this season.
Southern Miss returns almost all of their contributors from last year’s defense, but something appears to be missing on the field. Despite the returning experience, the Golden Eagles have had a tough time consistently stopping their opponents this season. Western Kentucky, a team that this isn’t known for their explosive offense had zero trouble moving the ball last week against Southern Miss. The Hilltoppers scored 42 points and quite frankly could have scored a lot more. Defensive end Jamie Collins is having a solid season for the Golden Eagles. In three games, Collins has six tackles for a loss and two sacks. Defensive tackle Khyri Thornton provides valuable experience and has recorded one interception on the season. Junior cornerback Deron Wilson has recorded 20 total tackles on the season and was a preseason first team All Conference USA selection.
I think this game will be close early on. Southern Miss is a program with a lot of pride and hosting a top 20 team is something that will get the fan base fired up despite their 0-3 start. I expect the Louisville offense to get rolling midway through the first half. After that, this one may get ugly. Unless Ricky Lloyd is the next Brett Favre, I don’t see Southern Miss being able to put a lot of points on the board. The duo of Wright and Perry will be too much for the Golden Eagles. Cards win 49-13.