HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A big blue rushing attack will be one of the primary challenges The University of Southern Mississippi football team will face Saturday when the Golden Eagles open the season at Kentucky.
This message has been preached to the Golden Eagles' defensive unit, and it seems to be understood.
"That's one thing that my coach has been stressing to us this week," senior USM linebacker C.J. Perry said. "Trying to stop the run because they do have a very, very good running back over there."
The running back Perry speaks of is Stanley "Boom" Williams. The speedy junior led the Wildcats in rushing a year ago with 855 yards and six touchdowns on 121 carries.
That's not all Kentucky has to offer, though. Senior Jojo Kemp and sophomore Mikel Horton figure into the backfield rotation as well. Kemp rushed for 555 yards and six scores on 98 carries. Horton put up 318 yards and three touchdowns on 82 attempts.
"They got about three or four (backs) that I think are very special," Golden Eagles defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro said. "So traditionally I think they're a traditional spread team in college football right now but they do definitely have an emphasis in the run game."
Perry certainly was not afraid to shower praise toward Williams. Still, the veteran is not looking past the rest of Kentucky's crew.
"(Their) running back is pretty, pretty amazing," Perry said. "They have some very, very good receivers. Their quarterback (Drew Barker) is good. Their o-line is very good so I wouldn't say that it creates challenges. It's just a different ..a different...something that we have to adapt to you know. Sort of say its an SEC opponent but we're not going to back down from anybody."
Saturday will be the debut of Pecoraro, who came over from Alcorn State, as USM's defensive coordinator. When it comes to defending the run, the first line of defense is the defensive line.
This group is guided by Derek Nicholson, another first year Golden Eagles coach from Alcorn.
"I think coach Nicholson has done a great job with them, getting them ready," Pecoraro said. "And you know there's definitely some players in that unit that we're excited about playing. I mean you always got Dylan Bradley. He'll always stand out but there's a lot more. There's a lot of other ones I think they're about to have a pretty big year. They've had a great spring and a good camp. I'm excited to see what they do in real like situations."