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2010 NCAA Football Preview: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

2009 Record: 7-6 (5-3 in C-USA)
2009 Bowl: New Orleans Bowl (lost to Middle Tennessee 42-32)
Final 2009 AP Ranking: Not Ranked
Head Coach: Larry Fedora (14-12 at Southern Miss)
Non-Conference Schedule: at South Carolina (9/2), Prairie View A&M (9/11), Kansas (9/17), at Louisiana Tech (9/25)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 32.9 points per game (2nd in C-USA, 18th in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 181 (2nd in C-USA)
Passing Yards/Game: 235 (5th in C-USA)
Total Yards/Game: 416 (4th in C-USA)

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 25.8 points per game (4th in C-USA)
Rushing Yards/Game: 131 (3rd in C-USA)
Passing Yards/Game: 261 (8th in C-USA)
Total Yards/Game: 392 (4th in C-USA)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: +0.77 per game (2nd in C-USA, 10th in Nation)
Penalties: 70 yards per game (last in C-USA, 114th in Nation)

Returning Starters
Offense: 3
Defense: 9
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Martevious Young, Sr (132 of 230 for 1861 yds, 16 TD, 3 INT, 186 ypg)
Passing: QB Austin Davis, Jr (108 of 156 for 1165 yds, 10 TD, 2 INT, 194 ypg)
Rushing: QB Martevious Young, Sr (73 carries for 294 yds, 1 TD, 4.0 ypc)
Rushing: RB Tracey Lampley, Soph (21 carries for 122 yds, 1 TD, 5.8 ypc)
Receiving: WR DeAndre Brown, Jr (47 rec, 785 yds, 9 TD, 4.3 rec/game)
Tackles: LB Korey Williams, Jr (119); LB Ronnie Thornton, Jr (110)
Sacks: LB Korey Williams, Jr (8.5); DE Cordarro Law, Jr (7.5)
Interceptions: SS Justin Wilson, Sr (2); LB Martez Smith, Sr (2)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #58
Phil Steele: #52
Sporting News: #57

2010 Pre-Season C-USA Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #1 in C-USA East
Phil Steele: #1 in C-USA East (tie with UCF)

2010 Pre-Season Bowl Prediction:
Athlon Sports: St Petersburg Bowl (vs. Cincinnati)
Phil Steele: St Petersburg Bowl (vs. USF)

Southern Miss started out strong last year by winning their first 3 games including victories over UCF and Virginia. All of those were at home and when Southern Miss went on the road they dropped their next 3 games. It was an up and down season that culminated in a bowl loss to Middle Tennessee. The Golden Eagles ended up 6-0 at home and 1-5 on the road in the regular season. We caught up with Drew from the site Golden Eagle Pride to learn more about the 2010 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. 

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team? 

Injured quarterback Austin Davis returns after missing a majority of the season last year due to a broken foot. His presence, along with 9 of 11 returning starters on defense means a lot of experience will be coming back. The defensive front seven all return, with sophomore Jamie Collins moving to linebacker. The linebackers are strong, fast, and will be a strength of the defense.

The biggest concern comes along the offensive line. There is talent from several strong recruiting classes, but they must replace 4 of the 5 along the front. The only returning starter is senior center Cameron Zipp. There are questions as to how the offensive line will be able to jel.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test and why?

Southern Miss opens the college football season on a Thursday night game against the Gamecocks of South Carolina. The third game of the year will see Big 12 opponent Kansas making a trip to Hattiesburg. We'll know a lot about this Eagle team before conference play begins.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

Southern Miss has adapted an attitude of "anyone, anywhere, anytime." They have always been a school that is known for going to play the best college football has to offer. Saying that, Houston's offensive power gave USM fits last season. Without defensive adjustments, the Cougars will be a tough match-up again. Central Florida is also a difficult place to play and could decide Conference USA East this season.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Senior starting running back V.J. Floyd has been behind all time leading USM rusher Damion Fletcher and Tory Harrison for three years. He knows the system, has paid his dues, and is ready for a big season offensively. Not flashy, he is steady, solid, reliable, and provides good leadership for this offense.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

WR Deandre Brown may not only be the best on the team, but could emerge as the best Wide receiver in college football. That is quite a bold claim, but the 6'6 wide receiver has fully recovered from a gruesome leg injury that slowed him last season. That, and having his quarterback returning, could make for a record breaking tandem. Brown has been a model player in spring and summer work outs, has improved his speed and strength, and is ready to show the nation why he should be considered among the nation's best.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team? 

MLB Korey Williams embodies some of the great USM linebackers of the past. Strong, fast, and tenacious, Williams led the team in tackles last season, and was clearly the leader of this defense. He can stuff the run, get to the quarterback, or pass cover. Also watch for defensive lineman Anthony Gray who regularly gets double teamed, and outside linebacker Jamie Collins. Collins saw significant time as a freshman at safety, and possesses freakish size and speed.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

QB Austin Davis had a break-out freshman year. He must return to his old form. A number two wide receiver must emerge to take some of the pressure and regular double teams DeAndre Brown will face, and could come in Jondrick Morris or Quintin Pierce. The secondary, a glaring weakness of the team last season, must step up. Safeties Justin Wilson and Kendrick Pressley must prove they can defend the pass in a wide open Conference USA.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year? 

It sounds silly to say, but kicker Corey Acosta out of Memphis may have the biggest impact this season. USM made even extra points an adventure, and ended the season with the lowest extra point percentage in college football. Acosta brings a strong, accurate leg that will be a major upgrade in the field goal unit. True freshman O.C. Brown, offensive lineman out of Memphis, will compete for playing time right away, and JUCO transfer Kelvin Bolden will be one to watch as a wide receiver.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

Redshirt freshman Octavious Thomas was a sleeper in the recruiting class from two years ago. A speed defensive end, Thomas could provide someone to take some pressure off Gray in the middle. Also, newly added Marquese Wheaton from Phoenix, AZ as a JUCO transfer could fill in one of the holes at cornerback.

Who is your pick to take C-USA this year (other than Southern Miss)?

Central Florida looks to have built a solid defense, and they have some skill position players back that make them and USM the teams to beat in the East. Houston will have another stellar offense, and also watch for emerging SMU to make a run in the West with June Jones turning that program around.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

Nothing short of a conference championship will be successful this season. Southern Miss once dominated Conference USA, and has been on the outside looking in the past couple of seasons. They need to win the east and get back to Memphis to play for the liberty bowl for this season to be a success. With a revamped offensive line, 8-4 is likely the result of this season.

Make sure to visit's Southern Miss website Golden Eagle Pride for all of your Southern Miss football and recruiting needs.

Previous Conference USA Previews
Houston Cougars
Tulane Green Wave
UTEP Miners

Next Up: SMU Mustangs

2010 Previews
ACC- Boston College Eagles, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Maryland Terrapins
Big 12- Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, USF Bulls, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Illinois Fighting Illini, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers
MAC- Ball State Cardinals, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, Central Michigan Chippewas, Temple Owls, Toledo Rockets
MWC- Colorado State Rams, UNLV Rebels, Utah Utes
Pac-10- Arizona State Sun Devils, Oregon Ducks, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies
SEC- Auburn Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, Mississippi Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, Vanderbilt Commodores
Sun Belt- Troy Trojans
WAC- New Mexico State Aggies

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