USM's eight penalties and three turnovers were glaring negatives that contributed to its 24-17 loss to Kentucky.
The Golden Eagles lack of a running game was also detrimental. USM gained just 55 yards rushing on Saturday.
Returning from 1,459 yards rushing last season, Ito Smith ran for just 37 yards on 16 carries against Kentucky. Although Smith caught nine balls for 78 yards receiving, coach Jay Hopson said establishing a run game is crucial for USM going forward.
"I don't think we ever really got anything going early in the first half," Hopson said. "Kentucky, give them credit too, they have a pretty good front. They did a good job stopping the run. Certainly that's something we want to do each and every week, run the ball. Ito had some good plays out of the backfield catching the ball and he had a couple really good runs. But that's something we do want to do. We want to be that balanced football team so we want to establish the run."