USM, Marshall tangle in crucial C-USA contest

By ALAN HINTON,

One thing is for sure: The Southern Miss football team’s task does not get any easier this week.

After falling to Charlotte 20-17 last week, Southern Miss will host the always-tough Marshall Thundering Herd at 2 p.m. Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

The game will be shown by Stadium on Facebook.

The Golden Eagles limp into the Marshall game with a 3-4 overall record, 2-2 in Conference USA, but they’ve lost three of their last four contests.

Marshall, on the other hand, is 5-2 and 3-1 and has won three of its last four games.

“They play fast on defense and offensively they are multi-dimensional,” Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said. “They can run it and they can throw it.”

Quarterback Alex Thomson will do the throwing. He has started the last three games and, for the season, has completed 55.2 percent of his passes.

“Each week you can see him get better and better,” USM defensive coordinator Tim Billings said. “He didn’t play in ’17 because of a shoulder (injury).”

Tyler King, who is averaging rushing for 93.6 yards per game, is Marshall’s top running back.

“They have nine returning starters on offense,” Billings said. “Their offensive line is really good. They know what to do. They’re probably the best offensive team we’ve seen besides North Texas.”

Southern Miss probably will go with Jack Abraham at quarterback, whose face got bloodied up a bit against Charlotte. Abraham has passed for 2,060 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

Tate Whatley replaced Abraham when he got hurt last week and completed 6 of 8 passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

Trivenskey Mosley, despite starting only the last two Golden Eagle games, is the team’s leading ground gainer with 368 yards to his credit. Steven Anderson is next with 166 yards.

Trouble in the red zone proved costly for Southern Miss last week, as it has most of the season.

“We are five points from being 5-2 and we are 18 points from being 6-1,” Hopson said. “But guess what? We are 3-4 and that is the reality of where we’re at. We just have to go to work. I want us to be the team that I know we can be and that is a challenge that I have for our coaches and our players. We have to take care of little things and if we do that, we will be OK.”

USM linebacker Sherrod Ruff, who was named Defensive Player of the Week for the Charlotte game, said the Eagles would be ready to play.

“It’s most definitely a rivalry,” he said.

Whatley was named the team Offensive Player of the Week and Nicario Harper was named Special Teams Player of the Week.

Saturday’s game will be Military Appreciation Day at Southern Miss.

“We talk about winning a game and going to war and battling but these guys are really going to war and they are battling,” Hopson said. “They are putting their lives on the line every day and every night and you just can’t thank them enough.”