Fans who trust Larry Fedora, you'll be happy about one thing he had to say at Conference USA's media day in Memphis. "I do anticipate us getting off to a good start," said the head man for Southern Miss.
And if fans look at the team Fedora will be fielding this year, it's easy to understand why Fedora sounds so confident. He'll have fifth-year quarterback Austin Davis lining up under center, who's already surpassed Brett Favre in touchdown passes, and only 300 yards away from passing Favre in career passing yards.
More importantly, Davis brings a leadership that can be invaluable to a team that's been so close to reaching the conference title game three years in a row. "He's...a guy who leads by example," praised Fedora, "but also has learned to lead from the rear and raise the level of the guys around him."
Arguable more dangerous than a talented team is the lesser talented team that's been there before, and Fedora will have more experience this year to fall back on. Davis will have one of the most dangerous targets in the conference in wide out Kelvin Bolden, and for close game scenarios, one of the best kickers in the country in Danny Hrappmann.
Of course, most fans probably aren't worried about the offense producing as much as they worry about the defense producing. And even more specifically, fans want the defense to produce when it matters most. Over the past three seasons, the Golden Eagles have lost 10 games in the conference...nine of them have come by seven points or less.
"Defensively, we've got to get better in the red-zone," said Fedora. Both the defense and offense will start pre-season preparation when practice begins this upcoming Friday. The team will prepare for it's opening day, or night, matchup with Louisiana Tech, which will be at The Rock, under the lights.
Starting kickoff is set for 9:00pm, but Fedora says he wouldn't care if it were 9:00 am. "I don't really care when it happens. Our players don't care. They're just excited to be able to hit somebody else now."