October 29, 2013
Monken Looks Past North Texas
It's been almost 48 hours since Southern Miss was trounced by North Texas on Homecoming Saturday night and coach Todd Monken and his team are trying to move on. It's about all they can do after a 55-14 beating -- one that saw the Mean Green outplay and outcoach USM in almost every facet - extended the Golden Eagles' current losing streak to nineteen games.
"We've put North Texas to rest and we're moving onto Marshall this week. It's another tough road challenge," Monken said. "(Head coach Doc Holliday) has done a great job in the years he's been there, recruiting really good football players. Their team plays hard. You can see it on both sides of the ball."
The Golden Eagles travel to Huntington to take on a Marshall team that has disappointed its fans in recent weeks. The Thundering Herd were supposed to be the class of Conference USA this season in quarterback Rakeem Cato's junior year, but Marshall has managed to lose three games already, including last week's last-second loss to Middle Tennessee State to put the Thundering Herd at 2-1 and 4-3 overall.
"Really, they're three tough losses away from being 7-0 and being in a conversation as a BCS buster," Monken said. "(They had) a tough one at Virginia Tech (losing 29-21 in three overtimes), obviously last week (in a 51-49 loss to Middle Tennessee) and Ohio U. on the road (in a 34-31 loss). We've got a real challenge ahead of us."
That challenge will be magnified by USM's ineptitude on offense and the team's inability to get itself off the field on defense. Monken did not mince word about his players' response to the continued losing.
"The day after a game that you lose - Homecoming, we didn't play as well in a number of areas as we had hoped and didn't give ourselves a chance to win - I think there's more disappointment," he said.
Saturday's game marked the first for freshman quarterback Nick Mullens, who was handed the reins to the offense after the early season struggles of Cal transfer Allan Bridgford. While Mullens did throw toss interceptions, the eighteen-year old also threw for 210 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort.
The first-year head coach liked what he saw from his freshman in his first ever-collegiate start.
"I thought he showed tremendous poise, leadership and toughness. He understood some of the mistakes he made," Monken said. "He's going to make mistakes. All of our players are. We have flaws. But I think
from a week ago to playing in the game, he's only going to be better this week."
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