Bye Week Practice Continues for Football
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss football team capped off Wednesday with an energetic workout at the Joe P. Park Practice Facility. The team worked out for two hours in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts in the second practice during the bye week.
"It was a good Wednesday," head coach Todd Monken stated after practice. "I thought the guys did a nice job today. Tuesday was good. Today was a lot better. Energy was good. I thought our guys came out to practice. It is hard on a bye week. It feels a little spring ballish where you are not preparing for the upcoming week. You are trying to do things better yourself.
"I thought the focus was good," Monken added. "Like I said yesterday, the next step is the mental toughness. Mental stamina. To do things right consistently to maximize our measurable skillset. We have talent. The biggest thing we have to do is develop that mental stamina, that toughness to sustain momentum in all three phases."
Defense and special teams continue to be priorities for the Golden Eagles as the team works to improve fundamentally. The defense has seen a lot of new players achieve success, while the special teams unit is anchored by a fifth-year senior kicker.
Linebacker Brian Anderson tallied a team-high 11 tackles, registering his second double-digit tackle performance of the season. Anderson ranks third in the league in tackles with 8.5 per game. The transfer has 51 total stops in six games this season.
The Golden Eagles have forced turnovers in 71 of the last 82 games (.866) and had two or more in 47 (.573) of those contests. The team is 34-37 when it forces at least one turnover and 30-17 when it collects multiple takeaways during that time. Against Middle Tennessee, freshman Trae Collins recovered his first fumble of his career with 11:27 left in the third quarter. Dasman McCullum notched his third forced fumble of the season and third of his career.
Corey Acosta converted a 25-yard field goal with 3:38 left in the first quarter against the Blue Raiders and a 26-yarder with 2:23 left in the second quarter. The senior has converted 11-of-14 for the season, giving him 35 for his career, moving into fifth place on the Golden Eagle career charts for field goals made. He moved ahead of Brant Hanna's 33 from 1998-01. The senior kicker leads Conference USA in field goal percentage and is second in the league in field goals per game (1.83).
"I would say (the bye) comes at a pretty good time," Monken said when asked if he felt like his team had a fresh start to the second half of the season. "Now we have six league games. How do we continue to move forward? Six games for our team to leave a legacy of what 2014 is. Last year, 2013 is over with; 2015 is in the future, but now we figure out what is the last six weeks of 2014 going to feel like for this year."