Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARSHALL FOOTBALL ; Herd Prepares for Visit from `Excellent' Southern Miss

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARSHALL FOOTBALL ; Herd Prepares for Visit from `Excellent' Southern Miss

Article excerpt

HUNTINGTON - Since the beginning of the 2012 season, Southern Mississippi is 7-34. For Conference USA opponents such as Marshall, that has quickly become irrelevant. The Thundering Herd knows the Golden Eagles aren't the same team it demolished 63-17 last November in Hattiesburg. Players and coaches aren't even uttering that phrase, "We're not taking them for granted.

This is a 3-2 team Marshall faces, one that dumped North Texas 49- 14 last week in its C-USA opener. It's a team that scored a combined 108 points in two other wins.

And it's a team that showed something in its two losses.

"I tell you the games that impressed me, go watch Nebraska [36- 28] and go watch Mississippi State [34-16], said MU coach Doc Holliday. "Those are two pretty good football teams, and they were right with them the whole game.

"I knew going into that game, prior to North Texas, that they were an excellent team, so [last week's game] didn't surprise me one bit.

Marshall (4-1, 1-0 C-USA) takes on the Golden Eagles (0-1 C-USA) in a Friday night game airing on CBS Sports Network. Kickoff at Joan C. Edwards is 7 p.m.

Holliday isn't surprised that the Golden Eagles are ranked the top offense in the league - not Louisiana Tech, not Western Kentucky, but Southern Miss.

That begins with quarterback Nick Mullens, who was named the league's offensive player of the week on Monday. He threw for 325 yards and four touchdowns and added a rushing TD.

Mullens, who missed the Marshall game last year, threw for 2,470 yards and 12 TDs in 10 games. After five games this year, he is 70 percent of the way to the yardage figure and two past the TD total. He threw for a career-high 447 yards against Nebraska, and owns four 300-yard games.

He has completed 66 percent of his passes and his NCAA rating is 162.9, only less than WKU's Brandon Doughty in the league standings.

As a freshman, he threw for 323 yards on 24-of-48 passing, but was sacked four times and hit the ground several more. But that was a long, long time ago.

"I'm most impressed by his confidence, said safety Taj Letman. "He know what he wants to do, looks off us safeties a little bit, just putting the ball in the right place. …

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