Southern Miss Golden Eagles Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Southern Miss season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles Preview
Head Coach: Will Hall, 3-9, 2nd year at USM
8th year overall, 59-29, 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 3-9, Conference: 2-6
Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Southern Miss Top 10 Players | USM Schedule
Southern Miss Golden Eagles Preview 2022
It’s not like the program hasn’t been through weird lulls before.
For years, Southern Miss was a rock-solid Conference USA power that went to bowl games every year, enjoyed winning seasons as the norm, and even made a few pushes for the conference championship, winning it in 2011.
Then came the disastrous 1-23 run followed up with a 3-9 2014, and then everything bounced back with a trip to the 2015 Conference USA title game and everything returned to normal.
And then came the loss to South Alabama to open the 2020 season, the coaching changes followed soon after, and all of a sudden the team was on a bad run going 2-19 against FBS teams.
The 2021 version couldn’t move the offense, the defense couldn’t carry the entire load, and it got ugly – the O didn’t hit 20 points against an FBS program until November 19th.
But head coach Will Hall managed to pull off two late wins, and now he’s got that momentum, a new conference with the move to the Sun Belt, and one of the league’s most experienced teams with a loaded defense and – if nothing else – a ton of depth, transfers, and experience on offense.
Again, it’s happened before, and it wouldn’t be shocking if there’s a big boost this year. This team might just be good enough to go from miserable to contender in a snap.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles Preview 2022: Offense
There’s a whole lot of experience returning, but the offense that was dead last in the nation in tackles for loss allowed, and dead last in turnovers, and among the worst in the country in third downs and, oh yeah, scoring, could still uses some work. The Golden Eagles averaged just 266 yards and 18 points per game, but …
The offensive line got a whole lot off work this offseason. It’s a veteran group with depth after bringing in a slew of big bodies through the transfer portal. It also is undergoing a change in coaching with Sam Gregg a good get from Liberty to make this group go. Now he has to find the right combination to get someone blocked.
The running backs are in placed to go. Frank Gore Jr. is the main man after running for 801 yards and five scores, and Mississippi State transfer Janari Dean is pushing his way into playing time in a rotation with second-leading rusher Dajon Ricard.
The quarterbacks have to survive behind the line that kept getting them popped. Six different Golden Eagles threw at least 11 passes last year, and now it’ll likely be Ty Keyes after a strong offseason, but this is hardly a settled gig with five other options still in the hunt.
The receiving corps is one of the team’s biggest strengths thanks to top target Jason Brownlee coming off a 46-catch, eight touchdown season. He’s good, Jakarius Gaston is a big target who can stretch the field, and like everyone else on this team but quarterback, the transfer portal is bringing in some help.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles Preview 2022: Defense
The defense was a plus considering the offense didn’t bring a whole lot of help. There wasn’t a pass rush, but the run defense wasn’t bad and the pass D was the best in Conference USA. That’s a tad misleading – the teams on the slate that could through had few problems doing it – but …
This really is a good, deep secondary full of options. The D only came up with 11 picks – a lot came late in the year – but Natrone Brooks is a solid corner and leading tackler Malik Shorts should be one of the most productive safeties in the Sun Belt.
Now they need help from more of a pass rush. Hello transfer portal.
Josh Carr earned all-star honors as an edge rusher after leading the team with 4.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss, but this line will be all about the JUCO transfers and guys from Mississippi State and Ole Miss to help boost the rotation on the defensive front.
Jalen Williams is a huge tackle from Arkansas, Armandous Cooley was a nice 6-2, 305-pound tackle get from Mississippi State, and Quentin Bivens from Ole Miss should play a role inside.
The linebacking corps has its hitters. Hayes Maples has been one of the team’s leading tacklers for a few years, and Santrell Latham and Swayze Bozeman can get all over the field. 234-pound TQ Newsome is one of the team’s bigger linebacking options working behind Maples.