Lincoln - Nebraska practiced for a third straight day on Wednesday, continuing its preparations for Saturday's 5 p.m. contest against Southern Miss (0-1).
Southern Miss dropped its season opener, 22-15, to Texas State last week. The biggest factor in the loss were six Golden Eagle turnovers, as Southern Miss nearly doubled Texas State's total yards. Despite entering Saturday's contest with 13 straight losses, NU Head Coach Bo Pelini said the Golden Eagles' recent string of losses is deceiving.
"They are a good football team," Pelini said. "They have a quarterback that can sling it. They are very good at the wide receiver position. (They have) good skilled people and are very agressive on defense. They are a fast defense that plays very aggressively."
As Pelini and his Huskers continue preparing for a pass-based Southern Miss offense and an aggressive defense, now is a perfect time for fans to learn more about the Golden Eagles.
Scouting Southern Miss
Southern Miss opened its 2013 season last weekend with a 22-15 loss to Texas State. The defeat was the Golden Eagles’ 13th straight loss, the longest losing streak in the country. USM went 0-12 in 2012, prompting a coaching change.
Statistically, Southern Miss performed well in Todd Monken’s coaching debut, but the Golden Eagles were their own worst enemy in the turnover department. USM out-gained Texas State 400-215, but the Golden Eagles lost the turnover battle, 6-1. Southern Miss lost four fumbles - including one that was returned 44 yards for a touchdown - and threw two interceptions.
Offensively, Allan Bridgford threw for 377 yards and one touchdown, completing 28-of-53 passes. It was an impressive debut performance for Bridgford, who transferred to Southern Miss after graduating from Cal this summer. Rickey Bradley caught seven passes for 193 yards, while Tyre’oune Holmes grabbed 12 passes for 96 yards. On the ground, USM rushed for just 23 yards on 24 carries, led by Kendrick Hardy’s 27 yards. Bridgford was sacked three times for 26 rushing yards lost.
Defensively, Southern Miss limited Texas State to just 81 yards rushing on only 2.0 yards per carry. The Golden Eagles also held TSU to 134 yards passing, while recording 11 tackles for loss and allowing only 13 first downs.
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Southern Miss, 3-1, including a 2-1 record at Memorial Stadium. Last year, the Huskers defeated Southern Miss 49-20 in the season opener, marking NU’s largest margin of victory in the series. The other two matchups in Lincoln have been close, with Nebraska earning a 20-13 victory in 1999 and Southern Miss winning 21-17 in 2004, which marked the Huskers’ first non-conference home loss in 13 seasons.
Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Hattiesburg, Miss., but was moved to Lincoln in the fall of 2012. In last year’s matchup, Nebraska rolled up 632 total yards, including 354 passing yards - the most passing yards in a season opener in school history.
Southern Miss Head Coach Todd Monken
Todd Monken is in his first season at Southern Miss and his first season as a head coach. Monken lost his head coaching debut last Saturday against Texas State, falling 22-15.
Monken came to Southern Miss after developing a reputation as one of college’s top offensive minds at Oklahoma State. With the Cowboys, Monken served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in both 2011 and 2012. In his two seasons as offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State set single-season school records for points scored, touchdowns and first downs, among many other records. The Cowboys scored more than 50 points 10 times in Monken’s 26 games as offensive coordinator, including five 60-point efforts, two games scoring 70 points and one game scoring 80 points.
Monken also coached at Oklahoma State from 2002 to 2004, serving as pass game coordinator and wide receivers coach. He faced Nebraska twice while at Oklahoma State, posting a 1-1 record against the Huskers.
Before returning to Oklahoma State in 2011, Monken spent four years as the wide receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also worked with receivers at LSU from 2005 to 2006, when he served two years on the same staff as Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini, who served as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.
Monken has also made coaching stops at Louisiana Tech (2000-01), Eastern Michigan (1993-99), Notre Dame (1991-92) and Grand Valley State (1989-90).