As Southern Miss gears for its season-opener against South Alabama Sept. 4, the 4th Street Sports show cast, a student-run sports show on Southern Miss Radio, gives its season predictions.
Season Prediction (6-6 overall record, 4-4 C-USA)
I expect great things out of first-year Head Coach Will Hall’s team but greatness is not made overnight- it’s a process and this process has just begun. The first year is likely to have its ups and downs but the infusion of talent and the return of last year’s top players make this a scary, high-ceiling team for opponents. The staff, players and fan base are all hungry for a turnaround from last year’s disastrous season and I expect a fight in every game from that desire to win.
However, many questions remain unanswered that will impact the outcome of this season. Quarterback Trey Lowe III was thrust into the starting role with little preparation last year but has gotten the nod to take the helm again after a successful offseason. I believe that the team’s success greatly relies on how Lowe can lead the team; Southern Miss looked lost last season without the leadership at that position and desperately needs it again.
The team has a depth of skillset players and star playmakers in Jason Brownlee and Frank Gore Jr., but injuries, especially on the defensive side, and inconsistencies in camp showed some of the team’s limits that could prove destructive down the stretch of the season. Those problems are avoidable but one wrong outcome could have a domino effect on the season, making it unrealistic to expect a cakewalk to the C-USA title game after recovering from last season.
Season Prediction (7-5 overall record, 5-3 CUSA)
Hall has brought a revival of energy back to Hattiesburg and declared the “Nasty Bunch” back. The Golden Eagle fanbase thirsts for a C-USA title and have bought in drastically to Hall’s rhetoric. A title seems a bit far-fetched to achieve in the first year, but I could be wrong as Hall is a proven winner.
The return of QB Trey Lowe III in his second year with the Golden Eagles has won over the locker room and he has looked the part since spring. I have no doubt Lowe’s talents will be displayed week in and week out. I still have to question his consistency for four quarters against West Division pre-season favorites UAB and UTSA, due to Lowe starting only a fraction of last year’s games.
Since the start of fall camp Lowe has shown that consistency though doing a great job of not turning over the ball and getting it to his playmakers. This leads me to believe the Golden Eagles will have a plus .500 season and star wideout Brownlee could have a 1200 yard receiving year if healthy. The offensive line has also made great gains in the run game as Frank Gore has made a couple of guys miss on his way to the end zone throughout camp.
On the other side of the field, the front seven of the “Nasty Bunch” have been battling a few setbacks with more than four guys sidelined throughout fall camp.
Near the end of camp, I recognized a concerning drop-off in the pressuring of the quarterback on the defensive line. I believe the Golden Eagles will have a good season by last year’s standard but will hit a bumpy patch near the Troy game that may carry on to the Rice matchup in Houston, Texas. If guys are ruled out on the defensive line this could be a huge problem, in the middle of the season. If healthy and the return of key pieces in the box, Southern Miss will oust its previous season of 16 sacks under Defensive Coordinator Austin Armstrong halfway through the season.
Season Prediction (7-5 Overall Record, 4-4 C-USA)
With a new coach for a new season, Will Hall has a tough job ahead of him, trying to fix a team that 3-7 last year due to a multitude of issues that took place last year. I don’t expect Hall to go undefeated this year, but I expect him to take a step in the right direction and bring the Golden Eagles back to winning again. I think this year is different because I see a lot of games going down to the wire, some last-minute drives and potentially some games going into overtime.
A lot of eyes will be on the offense this year. Three names come to mind when I say that: Trey Lowe, Frank Gore Jr. and Jason Brownlee. Brownlee will be taking over the number one spot at wide receiver and there are a lot of high expectations for him. I believe Gore will have a big year and I predict him to have 10 touchdowns this season. Lowe is getting rave reviews from coaches and teammates for his performance in summer and fall camp.
The defense also has something to prove this year, with coaches saying that they want to bring the Nasty Bunch, and that’s a big expectation to live up to this season. Again, I don’t expect perfection- this team will face some bumps, but my prediction for this year is 7-5 in Hall’s first year as Southern Miss’s head coach.
Season Prediction: (8-4 Overall Record, 5-3 C-USA)
I see the defense being a big factor this season. I’ve seen a lot of really great plays during practice and scrimmage from the defensive backs.
I really love our quarterback situation. Trey Lowe gets to make his first full-season showing this year and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do, especially with the ways he’s expanded his game this summer.
The receiving corps is great as well. I love all the energy they bring, especially from D’aquan Bailey-Brown, and all the speed and ability they bring to the table. I can easily picture them taking over when it matters.
Finally, the running back room is absolutely killing it. Richard and Gore have been firing on all cylinders every time I’ve seen them play in camp. Gore in particular is a standout in my eyes. Coach Hall has said over and over in practice that he has been a problem to bring down for the defense and I can’t wait to see him and what the rest of the team can do down on the field.