Southern Miss enters hostile territory in Miami. Can crew discover redemption after Liberty loss?


Southern Miss opened the season with a troublesome residence loss in opposition to a beatable opponent in Liberty and now should journey to face a nationally-ranked ACC crew in Miami.

The loss in opposition to Liberty opened up the same wounds that scarred the Golden Eagles in 2021. Starting quarterback Ty Keyes is out this week and Will Hall’s tremendous again formation will as soon as once more play a hefty position within the recreation plan going ahead.

Hall stated earlier within the week the plan for Saturday can be a mixture of the tremendous again, with a number of totally different athletes behind heart, and the debut of true freshman quarterback Zack Wilcke.

Though week one was a tough journey for the crew and the specialists in Vegas have slapped USM with a 25-point underdog tag this week, it shouldn’t be all doom-and-gloom in Hattiesburg.

The recreation virtually appears like a throwaway contest buried within the midst of a rebuild, but it surely presents Hall and Co. with an intriguing alternative in opposition to a Power Five program that has had its share of slips in opposition to perceived “lesser” opponents.

Southern Miss has the elements essential to do what this system has a protracted historical past of conducting: taking down Goliath.

Turning weak spot to power

The USM quarterback drawback has contaminated yet one more season and there’s no surefire timetable for a treatment.

In the instant quick time period, that isn’t essentially a demise sentence, even with the Hurricanes looming. The tremendous again package deal has been far-and-away the simplest offensive weapon the Golden Eagles have had within the quick Hall period.

Though the employees would favor Keyes to be on the sphere, the offense carried out noticeably higher with Frank Gore, Jr. behind heart in opposition to LU.

Gore, whose father performed at Miami, picked up a career-high 178 dashing yards final week. He led an offense that ran the ball on 75% of the snaps and averaged almost 5 yards per carry.

Early down success is essential and getting the ball within the air to Jason Brownlee and different targets is important to maintain the Hurricanes from loading the field.

If the Golden Eagles are once more profitable on the bottom this week, can restrict the turnovers (5 in opposition to LU) and blend in Wilcke’s arm successfully, the tremendous again has an opportunity to considerably shorten the sport by driving up time of possession.

Southern Miss received the possession battle within the second half in opposition to the Flames by almost two full minutes regardless of working 11 fewer performs than the LU offense.

Cutting again on what number of alternatives an explosive Miami offense has to attain will prolonged USM’s profitable window.

In flip, shortening the window the Hurricanes have will play straight into what the Golden Eagles do finest.

Dominate defensively

Miami scored 70 factors on lower than 70 performs in opposition to FCS Bethune-Cookman final week. It was environment friendly by way of the air and on the bottom and transformed each third down try it confronted.

But that was in opposition to an FCS protection. Southern Miss now arrives after having a 17 % havoc fee in opposition to LU, which might’ve been within the one centesimal percentile of all FBS video games performed in 2021.

Averie Habas and Santrell Latham each had a number of tackles for loss whereas the protection combo of Jay Stanley and Malik Shorts mixed for 17 stops, 1.5 tackles for loss and an interception.

They have been the catalysts for a protection that dominated the purpose of contact up till Hugh Freeze countered with a dual-threat quarterback within the fourth quarter.

Miami didn’t ask both of the quarterbacks it used to run the soccer, which is an efficient signal for the Nasty Bunch protection. Liberty’s working quarterback led to 11 first downs within the fourth quarter after the USM protection had held it to 11 complete by way of the top of the third.

In the anatomy of an upset, shortening the sport and enjoying robust protection are probably the most important elements for a crew enjoying with offensive query marks.

Southern Mississippi security Malik Shorts (9) cheers after a play in opposition to Liberty throughout a NCAA faculty soccer recreation in Hattiesburg, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Southern Mississippi misplaced 29-27 Hannah Ruhoff AP

Winning the turnover battle and on particular groups

Southern Miss had a robust common beginning discipline place of its personal 36-yard line final week and acquired a superb recreation out of punter Mason Hunt.

The discipline place battle went to the Golden Eagles, however 4 first-half turnovers stunted any and all momentum created by the protection and particular groups.

Hunt was his personal weapon in opposition to LU, touchdown two punts contained in the 20-yard line and ending with a more-than-respectable 40-yard web punt common.

Miami had an unimaginable common beginning discipline place of its personal 46-yard line in opposition to BCU, permitting it to strike shortly and feed off its protection.

If Hunt and the USM protection can replicate its efficiency from Saturday, which is simpler stated than carried out, it is going to drive the Hurricanes up in opposition to adversity for the primary time this season.

Southern Miss doesn’t must run up the scoreboard and even play an ideal recreation on offense. The keys to bringing down a nationwide energy are simple, however should be tied collectively.

Clock-draining energy working from Antavious Willis, Dajon Richard and Gore, Jr together with well timed throwing from Wilcke shall be wanted to attenuate the variety of possessions.

Strong protection is required to again up a probably one-dimensional offense whereas forcing turnovers and profitable the punting contest is important to restrict the impression the Hurricane offense could make.

The recreation is scheduled to kick at 11 a.m. CST from Hard Rock Stadium and shall be broadcast on the ACC Network.

Scott Watkins is the highschool sports activities and Southern Miss athletics reporter for the Sun Herald.


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