USM turns to archives to prepare for Troy matchup

By ALAN HINTON,

Southern Miss coaches knew right where to start when preparing for Saturday’s 5 p.m. football game at Troy.

Their own archives.

That’s because first-year Troy head coach Chip Lindsey was the offensive coordinator under former Golden Eagle head coach Todd Monken in 2014-15.

“We watched (game film of) his last two years here at Southern Miss, at Arizona State, at Auburn, at Troy,” Southern Miss defensive coordinator Tim Billings said. “I don’t know if that will help, but we’ve watched it all.”

Ironically, Lindsey was hired at Troy by current Southern Miss Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain, who was Director of Athletics at Troy when Lindsey was named head coach in January, before McClain was hired by USM.

The Golden Eagles stand at 1-1 after last week’s 38-15 loss to Mississippi State. Troy is 1-0 after a 43-14 victory over Campbell in Lindsey’s debut.

“It wasn’t our day,” Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson said. “Give Mississippi State credit. The first quarter, the offenses came out hot, but they got 14 points and we got none.

“Troy is another good football team. Chip is an excellent football coach and he does a great job offensively so he’s going to keep you balanced. Defensively, we’ve got to have a great day and offensively, too. We know we’ve got a big challenge.”

The Eagles’ defensive line of Jacques Turner, Demarrio Smith, Delmond Landry and Torrence Brown will be called on to meet Troy’s offensive challenge.

“The defensive line played extremely well (against Mississippi State),” Hopson said. “I don’t know that we played as well in the back seven.”

Landry was named the Southern Miss Defensive Player of the Week. Receiver Jordan Mitchell earned the offensive honor and Hayes Maples was named the Special Teams Player of the Week. Both Mitchell and Maples are former Oak Grove High School stars.

On offense against Troy, Southern Miss will start Kevin Perkins at running back, with Steven Anderson and others filling in. Trivenskey Mosley, the starter who was hurt early in the season opener against Alcorn, remains out of action.

One player who will return is All-Conference USA wide receiver Quez Watkins, who was held out USM’s first two games because of suspension.

Southern Miss leads Conference USA in total defense (307.5-yard average), kickoff returns (28.8-yard average), punt return average (31.7), kickoff coverage (47.6-yard average) and sacks (8).

Mitchell leads C-USA in receiving yards per game (113.5).

Troy, which competes in the Sun Belt Conference, was led offensive in their win over Campbell by quarterback Kaleb Barker, who was 18 of 29 for 282 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Lindsey and McClain are not the only USM-Troy connections. Former USM coach John Carr is the Troy assistant head coach and wide receivers coach and former USM quarterback Cole Weeks coaches the Troy tight ends and S-backs.

Dayne Brown is the Director of Recruiting at Troy, as he was at USM, and SaJason Finley is the head strength and conditioning coach at Troy, as he was at Southern Miss. And Troy wide receiver Reid Riels played in 25 games at Southern Miss, mainly as a holder on place-kicking snaps.

Even so, Hopson said those connections do not really play much of a factor during games.

“Football and sports are like that,” Hopson said. “There is so much connection between coaches and athletic administration. It’s just part of the game, especially when you’re in a region, like the Southeast region. You’re going to have coaches who have crossed paths at different schools or with other coaches. I just think it’s constant inter-twine in the Southeast.

“Usually when you look on the other sideline, there are familiar faces. I think that’s pretty commonplace.”

Saturday’s game will be played at Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000 capacity) at Troy. It will be televised by ESPN+.