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RBR previews the Southern Mississippi offense

Don't expect much.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Can we be honest for a moment? I don't really want to write about Southern Miss' offense.

Honestly, writing anything about Southern Miss in 2014 feels like piling on at this point. The Eagles entered the season on a 1-23 streak (and the one win came against, yes, UAB ... lawd), and venerated college football blogger Matt Hinton - a USM grad, no less - consistently ranked his alma mater at or near the bottom of college football every week during that stretch. It's an embarrassing stretch for a program once considered the most consistent in college football, and arguably Alabama's most consistently tough out since the schools began playing regularly in the 1970s.

USM is (apparently) making some moderate progress in 2014; last week the Eagles earned their first win in Hattiesburg since 2011 by holding on to beat Alcorn State, 26-20. Doesn't sound like much, but given that the season opened with a 49-0 drubbing vs. Mississippi State, it's ... well, it's not nothing, OK?

Anyway, here's their offense.




Fans of Birmingham Metro area high school football might recognize the name Chip Lindsey, a former head coach at Spain Park High who spent 2013 on Gus Malzahn's staff before taking the OC gig in Hattiesburg. His head coach, Todd Monken, suffered through a 2013 season that was beset on all sides by injuries and general misery.

The ‘14 version of the offense, for whatever it's worth, is a more balanced version of the spread attack - thus far the Eagles have averaged 139 yards rushing and 210 yards passing, and just over 4 yards per play. Most of that success came vs. Alcorn - in which the Golden Eagles surpassed 400 yards of offense for the first time since Monken took over - but ... whatever, man. Baby steps.

Lindsey's offense, predictably, also wants to play fast - USM has run 75 plays in each of its first two games (up from 69 in 2013), and possessed the ball over 30 minutes in each of those contests.




The task of running the offense belongs to returning starter Nick Mullens, who started 11 games in 2013 and has taken every snap in the first two games this season. Thus far, his numbers - 54.7 completion percentage, 210 yards per game, 2 TDs and 2 INTs, 22 net yards rushing per game  - are more or less consistent with his averages from last season. There are others on the roster who could potentially supplant the vet at the position, but Monken and Lindsey are unlikely to throw anyone else to the wolves this Saturday.


The focal point for the Tide defense this Saturday is tailback Ito Smith, a 2-star freshman who led the way in last week's win with 118 yards on 32 carries last week vs. Alcorn. For the season, Smith is averaging 3.6 yards per carry and just over 80 yards per game.

The next leading rusher on the team? Mullens.

Southern Miss does have two receivers - Casey Martin and Markese Triplett - averaging 8 and 7 yards per catch, respectively, and both caught 4 passes in the loss to Mississippi State in Week 1.

This will read like a carbon copy from last week, but the situation is virtually the same - barring something completely unforeseen, this isn't an offense that's built to test this Alabama team in any significant way. Expect to see the bench empty, again, over the course of this Saturday night, and hope that nobody suffers any significant injury in the process.

Hope for the best.