HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - When offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner first joined Southern Miss in the spring, he preached that the Golden Eagles were going to play fast and establish tempo.
USM played out Faulkner’s vision in Saturday’s 47-42 win at Troy. The Eagles racked up 626 yards of offense – 514 passing – while converting 11 of 17 third downs.
"We were blocking, I hear Jack [Abraham] behind me like, ‘Man we are rolling,’” said USM sophomore center Trace Clopton. “I was like, ‘Yeah, you keep throwing it!’”
"Changing the mindset and the culture offensively has been something as an offensive staff, that's where it starts,” Faulkner said. “It's not necessarily X's and O's, I think everybody gets caught up in that. It’s about believing and believing in each other and playing for one another. I think that’s where we’re getting to, they’re having a little fun.”
The Golden Eagles struggled defensively on Saturday, yielding 504 passing yards to the Trojans with four different receivers eclipsing the 100-yard mark.
The secondary is an area Southern Miss will examine closely headed into a matchup against Heisman candidate Tua Tagovailoa and a Crimson Tide receiving corps that boasts four different wideouts with at least 150 yards this season.
“Technically, we’ve got to be a little bit better in our coverage areas,” said USM head coach Jay Hopson. "And give [Troy’s] quarterback credit too, he’s a good player. We knew he was really good and he proved it. We didn’t bring our A-game in that area. We’ve got to play better this week.”
“[Alabama is] kind of like Troy except on steroids,” said USM defensive coordinator Tim Billings. "[They] got a Heisman Trophy candidate. It may be the best group of four receivers in the history of the NCAA. As a secondary, we need a lot of work right now. We’re going to plenty with Tua on those receivers.”
Southern Miss (2-1) visits No. 2 Alabama (3-0) on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Tuscaloosa.