Game Preview: Southern Miss vs. Florida Atlantic
After two weeks on the road, the Golden Eagles return to Roberts Stadium Saturday for an 11:30 a.m. Conference USA showdown with the Florida Atlantic Owls for Military Appreciation Day at The Rock.
Southern Miss will look to bounce back from a 36-13 loss at Louisiana Tech while Florida Atlantic will try to build upon a 34-17 win over Tulane a week ago.
This will be the first meeting between the Golden Eagles and Owls. Florida Atlantic is in the midst of its first season in Conference USA.
When the game starts, the Golden Eagles will face one of the more balanced offensive attacks of the year.
The Owls have rushed for an average of 161.3 yards and passed for an average of 197.1 yards on the year.
Florida Atlantic is led by junior quarterback Jaquez Johnson, a Mississippi native who has passed for 1,305 yards and six touchdowns and is second on the team in rushing with 518 yards and eight touchdowns on 125 carries.
Jonathan Wallace is the Owls' top rusher with 563 yards and three scores on 119 carries. William Dukes is the top receiver on the team with 31 catches for 458 yards and five touchdowns. Southern Miss has shown improvement in offense of late.
Freshman quarterback Nick Mullens is averaging 277.0 passing yards per game and has, over six game appearances and three starts, completed 73-of-153 passes for 948 yards and five touchdowns. Fellow freshman Tyre'oune Holmes has been the preferred target at receiver this year having caught 44 passes for 316 yards.
Markese Triplett is tied for second on the team with 20 receptions for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Mullens and Triplett also combined for the longest play from scrimmage this season, an 81-yard pass play.
Sophomore tailback Jalen Richard has also made 20 catches on the year which he has converted into 166 yards and one score. He leads the team in rushing with 256 yards on 71 carries.
On defense, the Golden Eagles continue to get solid performances from sophomore defensive back DeBarriaus Miller and redshirt sophomore linebacker Terrick Wright, who've made 76 and 75 total tackles, respectively.
Williams has made 31 tackles and produced a team-high 7.5 tackles for loss. His two sacks are tied with Octavius Thomas for tops on the team.
The Owls' top defensive performers are defensive back D'Joun Smith, linebacker Adarius Glanton, and defensive lineman Brandin Bryant.
Smith leads the nation in interceptions with seven to go along with 10 pass breakups, an average of 1.9 per game that ranks second in the nation.
Glanton has made 63 total tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Bryant has accounted for a team-high five sacks with 8.0 tackles for loss.
This will be the second-to-last home game of 2013 for Southern Miss, which closes its home schedule next week with a Senior Day meeting with Middle Tennessee.