In Head Coach Jay Hopson’s home debut, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles rolled over Savanah State with an astonishing 59-0 victory. The Hopson era has, without a doubt, started off on the right foot (2-0). After a 44-35 victory at Kentucky last week, USM backed that up in this home stand with the first shutout for the Golden Eagles since 2009.
“It’s a great atmosphere, great environment. I love having players and coaches come in from the Eagle Walk saying that the environment doesn’t get better anywhere else in America. That’s what we need week in and week out. Those guys feed off that.” – Jay Hopson postgame
Black & Gold Offensive Attack
Senior quarterback Nick Mullens fought some early adversity and dominated the first half. Despite throwing an interception in his first possession, Mullens moved on to throw for 216 yards and three touchdowns. At this point, a comfortable lead had been built and Hopson decided to sit his quarterback before the conclusion of the first half. Hopson felt the lead was sufficient enough to be able to get his reserves some experience. When asked about his team, Nick Mullens had this to say:
“We have plenty of people that can play. It creates competition at practice, […] and a brotherhood that makes everyone better.”
The roster undoubtedly has depth. Along with Mullens’ performance, running backs Ito Smith (128 yards) and George Payne (116 yards) added to a phenomenal offensive outing that produced 615 total yards.
The Rise to the Top
Nothing that Savannah State did on the offensive end could get past the Southern Miss defense. The Golden Eagles held SSU to 41 yards, setting a Conference USA record. Southern Miss controlled the line of scrimmage and continuously got to the quarterback with their pass rush.
The Special Teams unit did not live in the shadows either. Allenzae Stagger put his speed and elusiveness to the test when he returned a punt for a touchdown, the first time this has happened for USM in five years.
Next week Southern Mississippi hosts Troy at M. M. Roberts Stadium. The Trojans are coming off a 30-24 loss to the former number two team in the nation, Clemson. For many, this showed the strength and coaching ability that drives the Troy Trojans’ program. This battle at ‘The Rock’ will be a clash to keep an eye on.