Southern Miss QB picture still blurry

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - It may be no secret that on-lookers at M.M. Roberts Stadium were less than impressed with the play under center last Saturday when East Carolina put the Golden Eagles in a 0-2 hole. After the Golden Eagles' 24-14 loss, in which freshman Anthony Alford and redshirt junior Chris Campbell both showed reason for promise and concern, Head Coach Ellis Johnson didn't reveal much as far as who might assume full command of the Golden Eagles' offense moving forward.

"They both bring a little different thing to the table," Johnson said at his Monday press conference. "What we're going to have to do is work through practice, and see who's practicing the best to see who's going to get the start.

"I think a lot of it will also depend upon what we feel about Western Kentucky, and who gives us the best chance in the game plan. Then we're going to pull a starter, name him, and he's going to play until he plays poorly. Then both of them will play."

Some of the Southern Miss offense may not be too fond of that. Markese Triplett, who caught his first collegiate touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, feels it's hard to create a chemistry with one quarterback when both are being switched out.

"That's what the talk around the locker room was; that we should focus on one quarterback and develop a chemistry with him," said the third-year wide out. He may also have hinted at who he would wants to see under center.

"(Anthony Alford), he's a pretty good quarterback, but he's still got a lot to learn," said Triplett, "Chris (Campbell) has learned that over time. So, as far as being comfortable, we really don't know, because we've been back and forth throughout practice. So, we just don't know right now."

Alford, a former All-American at nearby Petal High School, started his first collegiate game in front of the fifth largest crowd ever at the Rock, and looked to get off on the right foot. Literally. He drove his team 70 yards, all with intermediate runs, for the game's first touchdown. Consistency was hard to come by afterward.

"Anthony had a great drive his first drive. Chris (Campbell) had a great drive his first drive. After that, both of them were kind of hot and cold," said Head Coach Ellis Johnson on Monday. Alford finished the game 6-of-14 for 88 yards and a pick. On the ground, where he currently ranks second on the team in rushing, Alford rushed for a net gain of 13 yards on 20 rushes.

"After the game, I thought it was obvious, Anthony can do some things with the ball in his hands that makes things happen," said Johnson, "I think we had 12 explosive plays, five of them were runs. He was involved in every one of them. Seven of them were passes. He was involved in three of those, but there were too many mistakes."

Campbell, meanwhile, entered in the fourth quarter, where he made things interesting. With just under 14 minutes to play in the game, Campbell found Triplett over the middle for a eight-yard strike that pulled the home team to within ten. Campbell finished 11-of-21 for 145 yards and a touchdown.

The Pirates' defense caused three turnovers, al three by Alford, and threw the quarterback to the turf a total of five times.

The Golden Eagles are 0-2 for the first time since 1998, and will look for their first win on the road against Western Kentucky this Saturday. Kick off is set for 6:00 pm.

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