The Southern Miss Golden Eagles failed to win a single game in 2012. That prompted a coaching change with former Oklahoma State Cowboys offensive coordinator Todd Monken taking over as the head coach for 2013. His high powered offense likely has something to do with the Eagles kicking off the Rant Sports 100 in 100 series off as the No. 100 team for the 2013 season.
Monken has surrounded himself with a young, energetic and knowledgeable staff that has attacked the issues of a young and overmatched Southern Miss roster as they try and make their way out of the cellar of Conference USA next season. Does Monken have what it takes to get the Golden Eagles off the ground in 2013?
When you think of Todd Monken, you immediately think of the high-octane offenses he put together at Oklahoma State. To run that offense, he will first need a quarterback, which may be the strongest area of the roster with Anthony Alford returning next fall.
As a freshman in 2012, Alford showed himself as a dual-threat under center, leading the team in both rushing and passing attempts. He finished the year with 105 attempts for 329 yards and passed for 664 yards with a combined eight touchdowns in just nine games.
In his sophomore season, Alford needs to show a ton of growth, particularly in the passing game. He completed just 44.9 percent of his passes a year ago and threw more interceptions than touchdowns. For him to flourish under Monken, he has to improve his decision making and accuracy and his new coach’s offensive system will do the rest for him.
The Southern Miss defense left a lot to be desired in 2012, ranking No. 116 in scoring defense. Things aren’t going to be helped by losing their top defensive player, defensive end Jamie Collins, who led the team in both tackles and sacks by a wide margin. In his absence, linebacker Alan Howze will have to step up.
Howze finished second to Collins in tackles and sacks during his junior season and will be pushed into a leadership role during his senior year. He finished the 2012 season with 66 tackles, including five tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. Next fall, he will be asked to shoulder a bigger load of the defense and step up his disruptive ability.
He will need help from every other level of the defense as well. There won’t be a single player who carries this defense to a turnaround next season as there are deficiencies just about at every position, but having Howze’s leadership at linebacker will be a good start.
Unfortunately for Southern Miss, their early schedule doesn’t allow them a great opportunity to build any positive momentum during the season. After opening the year with a home game against the Texas State Bobcats, the Eagles are on the road for the next three weeks against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Arkansas Razorbacks and Boise State Broncos.
The road will be tough and there won’t be a lot of opportunity for Southern Miss to get things rolling their way early. While Monken has the skills to build a winner, it’s unlikely to happen as early as next season.