HATTIESBURG, MS - After giving up 35 unanswered points in its 45-10 loss at LSU, Southern Miss had a long bus ride home last Saturday. It was plenty of time for the Golden Eagles to have a conversation about what they need to do moving forward.
"We were on the bus after the LSU game and we were just talking as a D-line," said Southern Miss sophomore linebacker Darian Yancey. "We have to get together and just call a meeting so we can better understand as players what we have to do to get better and make everything work. We have all the players, we have the strength coaches, we have the position coaches, we just have to put it all together and make sure we're all in our right spots and just continue to play hard."
It sounds like a simple solution: just execute. But it's something USM has struggled to do in its three losses this season. After a productive bye week, the Golden Eagles welcome a struggling 2-5 Marshall team to the Rock. However, Southern Miss doesn't soon forget its loss to 2-3 UTSA three weeks ago.
"Teams typically put it together when they play us so we're expecting [Marshall's] A-game," said Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. "And their A-game is definitely good enough to beat anybody on their schedule. I don't look at opponent's records. It's irrelevant to me because I'm expecting them to play their best game and I know regardless if they've won one game, five games, six games - if we don't play well and they do, we're going to get beat."
If Southern Miss wins its next five games, they will secure the C-USA West crown for the second straight year but the Herd have won the last five meetings. Seniors like Nick Mullens – who's just 136 yards away from the USM passing record – know the Golden Eagles march to the C-USA championship starts with a win over Marshall.
"We understand that's the reality of our season," said Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson. "It is kind of like a five game stretch right now to achieve your goals and those are things that we have to take one at a time. We have to get ready to play Marshall and nothing else really matters right now."
"You know as well as I do that if we don't prepare this week and we go out and get beat, all that stuff you talked about doesn't exist," Dawson said. "So, we don't need to get ahead of ourselves."
Southern Miss controls its own destiny in the C-USA West. Kickoff between USM and Marshall is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium.