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Summer Scheming ‘22: Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Sept. 10

Southern Miss isn’t the same caliber of program it was in the 90’s and early 2000’s. The Golden Eagles, however, are looking to bounce back under 2nd year coach Will Hall.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Troy at Southern Miss Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes will host the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Saturday, September 10th at Hard Rock Stadium. This is the first matchup between Southern Miss and Miami in history, per Winsipedia.

Info: Southern Miss @ Miami (Miami Gardens, FL)

Day/Time/Channel: Sept., 10, 2022 / 12pm / ACCN

Southern Miss will be joining the Sun Belt for the 2022 season. Head coach Will Hall was in his third run as a head coach, but 1st season in charge of the Golden Eagles in ‘21. While Southern Miss finished 3-9, his previous runs as a head coach at West Alabama and West Georgia (a lot of directional schools in this man’s life) were a huge success. Hall finished 25-11 at West Alabama and 31-9 at West Georgia with multiple playoff runs at both schools.

2021 Record: 3-9 (2-6 in Conference USA)

Bowl Game: N/A

Coach Speak

Anonymous FBS assistant coach:

“Hall can turn things around this season at Southern Miss. They brought in some defensive transfers to shore up that side, and a QB transfer to help the offensive side of the ball. Frank Gore Jr. is an offensive threat. Schedule isn’t easy but it’s not suffocating. Coach Hall is a players coach that is well liked by everyone in the athletic offices.”

“I remember that guy!”

The Southern Miss flashback player is Dustin Almond. Almond, the Golden Eagles quarterback from 2002-2005, started the majority of his four years in Hattiesburg. Almond threw for 7,342 yards 51 touchdowns and 28 interceptions while running in 13 more TD’s over his college career, before a brief stint in the NFL.

Data & Personnel

Southern Miss heads into the 2022 season as the SP+ projected 93rd team in the country.

SP+ Projection Overall: 93 (Miami 14)

SP+ Proj. Offense: 123 (Miami 21)

SP+ Proj. Defense: 54 (Miami 23)

Quarterback Ty Keyes took over starting duty part way through ‘22, but also was injured against Rice. In limited starting duty, Keyes threw three TD’s and four INT’s on 5.5 yards per attempt. Coach Hall feels the talent has been there for Keyes, and now the mental part of the game is clicking for him, too.

Senior WR Jason Brownlee is back for the ‘22 season. Brownlee has hauled in over 600 receiving yards in both of his seasons with So. Miss, as well as 13 TD’s in two years.

University of Southern Mississippi vs Troy University Set Number: X163804 TK1

Undersized RB Frank Gore Jr., yes, the son of THAT Frank Gore, has eight TD’s from scrimmage and has even thrown four scores in two seasons in Hattiesburg.

Josh Carr Jr. transferred to So. Miss from SLU, and logged 8.5 TFL’s and four sacks in ‘21. Carr Jr. will return to play Jack linebacker at six-foot-four, 240 pounds. He could be an issue for Zion Nelson and whoever starts at the other tackle spot.

In the defensive backfield- Natrone Brooks, a senior DB, has 17 PBU’s in two seasons with the Golden Eagles, while redshirt junior DB Malik Shorts has logged five TFL’s and 14 PBU’s in four seasons.

Cameron Harrell made the Athlon preseason Sun Belt All-Conference first team as a kick returner. A dynamic defender/returner, Harrell, averaged 25.5 yards per kick return with a score and logged four PBU’s in ‘21. Brownlee made the third team offense, while LB Hayes Maples made the third team defense. Maples picked up 60 stops last year with 4.5 TFL’s and 1.5 sacks, too.

Punter Mason Hunt and punt returner Brooks were named third team specialists. Hunt averaged 43.6 yards per punt while Brooks averaged 14 yards per punt return a year ago. Brooks also made the fourth team defense as a cornerback.

Southern Miss. Scheme on O

The Southern Miss offense comes from Tulane where the Green Wave ran a spread, wing-t, flexbone sort of vibe under Willie Fritz. Expect extra tight ends, wingbacks, fullbacks and spread sets with all types of players lined up behind center at any given time.

Above- Three WR’s and an off-set H-Back. Standard stuff in college football. But how the Golden Eagles line up won’t be standard often.

Above- Formations, personnel groups, run concepts, styles... So Miss will try it all! It’s a lot to plan for early in the season, especially with a road trip to Texas A&M the next week.

Above- Wondering if Jr is anything like Sr? The five-foot-eight, 185 pound back out of Killian High in Miami can get tough yards or beat you in space. The difference, of course, will be the quality of line play comparatively between Miami and S. Alabama.

Above- yet another formation by Hall’s offense. They’ve also ran a variety of different run concepts throughout the 1st half alone.

Southern Miss. Scheme on D

The Eagles defense is a mixture of a 3-4 and 3-3-5 scheme that tries to get speed and power on the field. Defensive Coordinator Austin Armstrong came to So Miss from Louisiana-Lafayette. Prior to his time at Louisiana, Armstrong coached at Georgia under Kirby Smart, Louisiana, and West Georgia.

Above- You can see some standard stuff from the Eagles above. It’s a nice blend of 3-3, 4-2, and 3-4 from the So Miss defense.

Above- As we saw against FSU and UNC, Tyler Van Dyke does have one weakness, it’s going deep over the middle late. He’ll get a little greedy and/or cocky about his arm and that could bite him early on.

Above- Miami has been really bad against looping games from D-Lines. Too many lunging big fellas instead of the O-Line waiting for contact in space. I think Coach Mirabal fixes that issue.

Above- In our Canyonero keys, we’ll see this type of work come up. If the DB’s are going to run deep and be worried about speed, beat them with shake.

Above- Take advantage of a numbers game, give the defense eye wash, and let your skilled athletes work in space. The So Miss OODA Loop is disrupted while S. Alabama’s looped on. With athletic RB’s like Jaylan Knighton, and TE’s that could draw attention like Will Mallory, use the TE as a lure and get your RB open.

Canyonero keys to victory

1- Stick to the fundamentals. One thing you see happen when more talented P5 teams play G5’s is getting sloppy. Don’t lose sight of what wins games- blocking and tackling.

2- Stop Frank Gore Jr. Steele and Strong can’t let Gore run on his Miami defense, the way Utah did in ‘21 to Oregon, or App State and others have done to Diaz’s ‘Canes defenses in ‘20 and ‘21.

3- Take what the Golden Eagles give you. If they’re playing DB’s 10 yards off the ball, don’t keep throwing fades, take the underneath stuff, break tackles, turn 7-yarders into 50-yarders. If they put eight in the box, throw the damn RPO.

Way too early prediction: Miami by 24.