HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - USM Press Release
The Southern Miss football team utilized an hour and a half walkthrough in M.M. Roberts Stadium here Thursday afternoon to continue its preparations for Pac-12 foe Washington in next Saturday’s Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The Golden Eagles have three more practices on their campus, before heading to Dallas on Monday.
Southern Miss enters the game having tallied a school-record 6,758 total offensive yards, thanks to some great offensive performances this season. Along with quarterback Nick Mullens’ school-record passing yards (4,145) and touchdown passes (36), the rushing duo of Jalen Richard and Ito Smith became the first two Southern Miss rushers to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in the same season since 1981, tallying 1,098 and 1,088 yards, respectively.
Senior wide receiver Mike Thomas added a school-best 1,201 receiving yards for the season to go along with 12 touchdowns, including at least one collected in each of his last nine games. Fellow senior Casey Martin contributed with a single-season school mark of 74 catches in 2015 as well.
“It is a credit to those guys and our offensive staff,” said third-year Southern Miss coach Todd Monken of the record-breaking offensive year for the offensive players. “If you look at the guys that are having great years, most of them had great off seasons. Having the whole offensive line back, that was a big part of it too. In addition, guys have played well around Nick (Mullens) and we have been healthy. You don’t put up those type of numbers unless you stay healthy.”
The Golden Eagles look to continue to create offensive opportunities against a stingy Washington defense that allows just 349.9 yards per game, which ranks No. 28 nationally, and 17.8 points allowed a contest, which is 12th-best in the country.
“We always like to look (at the opponents’) big play tape and when you look at that (for Washington), they don’t give up a lot of big plays,” said Monken. “They are very disruptive, yet don’t give up a lot of big plays downfield. You have to be able to pick your spots to make plays when they do decide to play you in man (coverage) and have to run and catch in space.”