Southern Miss looking for consistency

Southern Miss looking for consistency

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - University of Southern Mississippi coach Jay Hopson liked quite a bit of what he saw Saturday night from his football team in its 24-14 win over Marshall University.

He just wants to see more of it.

"At the end of the day, a lot of pluses on both sides of the ball," Hopson said Monday during his weekly news conference. "(Offensively), we moved the ball well and we got the ball down in their side of the field plenty of times. It was just a play here or a play there. That's where I always talk about precision and execution, and we just have to fine tune that and that's going to be a big difference for us down the stretch. "

The Golden Eagles (5-3, 3-1 Conference USA) have four conference games left, starting with Saturday's 2:30 p.m. home game against Charlotte University (3-5, 2-2) at Roberts Stadium.

A victory would give the Golden Eagles a sixth, consecutive victory and bowl eligible for a second, consecutive season after a four-year absence from 2012-15.

"There's been talk about a bowl, but we kind of stay focused on the (conference) championship because that's our main goal," USM offensive guard Oliver Bates said. "That's what we want, the championship."

The 49ers are coming off an open week, marking the third time this season USM will face an opponent who has had an extra week of preparation.

But defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro said the Golden Eagles should be fine.

"Guys are going to be a little fresher coming off of it and it's a little extra time for preparation," he said. "But the good thing for us is that we just came off a bye, too, so it's not like we're eight games in to it and not had it."

Hint, hint, hint.

Bates was asked whether quarterback Nick Mullens had said anything to his offensive line after becoming the school's all-time passing leader in the Marshall game.

"He just said, 'Great job,'" Bates said. "He just really congratulated us, but I'm pretty sure he'd like to take us out or something one time."

Mullens broke Austin Davis' previous record of 10,892 career passing yards on an 11-yard screen pass to Ito Smith with 1:16 left in the second quarter. Mullens has thrown for 11,057 yards in three-plus seasons at USM.

Players of the Week

Offense: Running back Ito Smith, who rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries against Marshall. He also caught four passes for another 43 yards.

It was Smith's fifth, 100-yard game of the season, but first since Sept. 24 against University of Texas-El Paso.

His 13th career, 100-yard rushing game leaves him one shy of Derrick Nix and third-place on that list.

His 1-yard run in the first quarter gave him a touchdown rushing or receiving in his 12th consecutive game.

Defense: Tackle Dylan Bradley, who had four tackles (two solo), including 1 ½ sacks against the Herd.

Special teams: Defensive tackle LaDarius Harris/Outside linebacker Darian Yancey, who were credited with creating the crease that allowed Bradley to block a fourth-quarter field goal by the Herd.

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