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Marshall opponents: Game 8, Southern Mississippi

AP Photo
Southern Miss coach Todd Monken

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 16th in a series of previews on West Virginia and Marshall football opponents.

  • Date with Marshall: Saturday, Nov. 2, 12:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
  • Site: Joan C. Edwards Stadium (38,000, FieldTurf), Huntington
  • Series: Southern Miss leads 5-3
  • Last meeting: Marshall 59, Southern Miss 24, Oct. 20, 2012 at Hattiesburg, Miss.
  • Coach: Todd Monken (first season)
  • Checking them out

    When the realignment bell tolled on July 1, the Golden Eagles found themselves one of the last charter members of Conference USA still in the league (and Tulane is leaving in 2014). Seven months earlier, the once-proud football program found itself cleaning up from a shocking 0-12 season.

    The Ellis Johnson era ended after one year, as he was effectively hooted out of Hattiesburg. Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken accepted the job of putting the pieces back together. (Take credit if you identify him as Dana Holgorsen's replacement at OSU.)

    The Eagles' spring prospectus will tell you all you need to know about the coaching staff and nothing about the players, save for a roster, and absolutely nothing about the 2012 season. It does tell you the Eagles return four starters on offense, nine on defense, if that matters.

    Four of the top five rushers return, led by Desmond Johnson. Cole Weeks, who threw 19 passes last year, and redshirt freshman Kyle Sloter split reps in the spring game, so the three QBs who played against Marshall last year are out of the picture. Three of the top four receivers - Justin Sims (20 catches, 294 yards), Franscisco Llanos (20-226) and Dominique Sullivan (19-331, three TDs) are back and might get more on-target passes.

    Those five Eagle QBs completed 48.2 percent of their passes, averaging less than 13 completions a game. The line allowed 30 sacks and produced just 3.9 yards per carry.

    Defensively, the Eagles gave up 629 total yards to Marshall, the school's worst defensive showing since the Brett Favre era. Of the few notable defenders, tackle Khryi Thornton (91/2 tackles for loss) is back, along with cornerback Deron Wilson (third-leading tackler with 63).

    Corey Acosta, who went 11 of 17 on field goals and hit a 51-yarder against MU, is back, but Southern Miss needs a new punter. Justin Sims (22.6 average) had 19 of the team's 53 kickoff returns.

    All-conference candidates

  • Defense: DT Khyri Thornton, CB Deron Wilson
  • Special teams: K Corey Acosta
  • Notes

    Not that Johnson became destitute. He became Auburn's offensive coordinator. ... Monken hired Lytrel Pollard from Marshall to coach the secondary, with emphasis on cornerbacks. ... Strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith came from WVU, where he was assistant strength coach.

    2013 schedule

    Aug. 31 Texas State DNP

    Sept. 7  at Nebraska L 20-49

    Sept. 14 at Arkansas DNP

    Sept. 28 at Boise State L 14-40

    Oct. 5 Fla. International* DNP

    Oct. 19 at East Carolina* L 14-24

    Oct. 26 North Texas* DNP

    Nov. 2 at Marshall* L 24-59

    Nov. 9 at Louisiana Tech* DNP

    Nov. 16 Florida Atlantic* DNP 

    Nov. 23 Middle Tennessee* DNP

    Nov. 30 at UAB* L 19-27

    * Conference USA games

  • 2012 record: 0-12 (0-8 C-USA, 6th East Division)
  • Dropped: Western Kentucky (L, 17-42), Louisville (L, 17-21), Central Florida (L, 31-28, 2 OT), Rice (L, 17-44), Southern Methodist (L, 6-34), Texas-El Paso (L, 33-34), Memphis (L, 24-42)


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