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Alabama vs. Southern Miss Preview: When the Golden Eagles have the ball

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Jack Abraham leads an explosive passing offense into Tuscaloosa for brunch.

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Eagles are coming into Tuscaloosa after an explosive, back and forth affair with the Troy Trojans. In that game, Southern Miss put up 47 points and 626 yards of offense. So far in the 2019 campaign, the Golden Eagles are averaging 453 yards per game, which comes in at 46thin the country in total offense. Of that, 347 are in the air and 106 are on the ground. Southern Miss is averaging 33.3 points per game.

The Southern Miss offense is led by first year offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner. He was previously the offensive coordinator at Arkansas State, where the Red Wolves were the nations #17 ranked total offense in 2018. Faulkner runs a fairly balanced attack, evidenced by their nearly 50% split throwing 91 passes and rushing 98 times in 2019.

Redshirt junior quarterback Jack Abraham was one of the most accurate passers in the nation in the 2018 season. He led the nation in completion percentage and was ranked number 4 in completions per game. So far in 2019, Abraham is 64 for 90 with 990 yards. He has thrown 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions and has a 71.1 completion percentage. Most notably, they’re the 5th ranked passing offense in the nation when it come to explosive passes.

Redshirt junior running back Kevin Perkins is the Golden Eagles leading rusher so far in the 2019 season. He has rushed for 88 yards on 18 attempts and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Redshirt sophomore running back Steven Anderson is another back that gets a decent amount of carries, and o far this season, he has rushed 19 times for 59 yards and 1 touchdown. That 3.1 yards per carry for him doesn’t look too hot. The Golden Eagles are 105th in the nation in rushing success rate, so their nearly 50/50 split of running and passing should probably lean a little more towards passing the ball.

The receiving corps for the Golden Eagles is led by redshirt senior Jordan Mitchell and redshirt sophomore Jaylond Adams. Mitchell has 16 catches for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns so far in the 2019 campaign. The most explosive player on the Southern Miss team is Jaylond Adams. He has 18 catches for 257 yards and 1 touchdown and is coming off of a 180-yard game against Troy. Adams is also the return specialist for the Golden Eagles, he has 2 kick return touchdowns and 1 punt return touchdown this season.

The Southern Miss offensive line is a veteran one that has a lot of size. 6-6 320-pound redshirt senior left tackle Drake Dorbeck has started almost every game since the 2017 season for the Golden Eagles. 6-6 315-pound redshirt senior left guard Ty Pollard has started almost every game since 2016, and 6-3 310-pound junior right tackle Arvin Fletcher has started every game since the 2017 season. Though the overall run game hasn’t been great, the line has performed well in short yardage (75%) and are only allowing sacks on 4.2% of dropbacks.

The Matchup:

This game will be a good opportunity for the Alabama defense to play against a decent non-power five school and work out some kinks that were exposed against South Carolina. The Gamecocks hit a record number of plays of 10+ yards on the Tide, and the Golden Eagles will look to follow that same blueprint. Again, this will test the pass rushers and corners/safeties to see if they can keep the explosive Abraham limited to shorter passes, and then make the tackles that they missed last week.

The Southern Miss offense is no cakewalk, but I expect the Alabama defense to have a good day overall. Alabama should finally be able to get that elusive non-offensive touchdown.