Southern Miss couldn't have asked for a better start to Conference USA play.
The Golden Eagles dominated Marshall in all phases of the game, winning 41-16, in Hattiesburg, Miss.
"It was big," said Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora. "That was the script that we wrote. We wanted it to happen the way that things happened tonight, and it did. The main goal all week was to be 1-0 in Conference USA play and I thought the guys did a great job tonight. I want to go back to the coaching staff also. They did a great job in coaching these guys and preparing them as they have all season. I am really proud of those guys also."
Southern Miss nearly doubled the offensive output of Marshall, 369-170. Most of those yards (205) came on the ground for Southern Miss.
The Golden Eagles held Marshall to two yards per rushing attempt, only 45 for the game. The defense also had five tackles for loss. It forced Marshall to punt on its first seven possessions. And the Thundering Herd only crossed once into Southern Miss territory.
Said linebacker Korey Williams: "Last year, I have to admit I was more concerned about personal stats. Now this year, every guy is in it for a common goal. Nobody cares who gets the tackle. We celebrate with each other (after a stop) and it is fun. It is really fun when everybody gets a chance to make plays."
Southern Miss punter Peter Boehme dropped all three of his punts inside the Marshall 20.
"Our goal is to win the conference championship so we kind of looked at this as the first game of the season," said Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis, who had three touchdowns on the ground, and one in the air. "The rest of our games were preseason. There was some extra excitement to get the conference season started and right now we are 1-0."
Southern Miss certainly looks to be the favorite in Conference USA, especially with the injury problems Houston faces. Next week the Golden Eagles get a home game against East Carolina, which has started 2-0 in league play.
• Southern Miss' impressive win added to some equally impressive streaks. The Golden Eagles are 13-2 in Conference USA openers. Southern Miss has also won 11 consecutive home games.
• Golden Eagles kicker Daniel Hrapmann's memorable season continues. He kicked a career-long 51-yard field goal. Later he made a 24 yarder, which means he has made 11 straight field goals dating back to last year's New Orleans Bowl.
• Southern Miss has had some minor injury issues with its receiving corps. The most concerning injury is that of DeAndre Brown, but he should be back soon. Till then there are plenty of wide-outs Southern Miss can count on, including freshman Markese Triplett and Dominique Sullivan, who combined for 4 catches against Marshall.
Game Ball Goes To: RB Tracy Lampley - The running back showed his versatility against Marshall. He ran for 53 yards on nine carries. Lampley also had six punt returns for 46 yards. Lampley was the only ball carrier who tallied more than 100 all-purpose yards.
Keep An Eye On: QB Austin Davis - Next week is a big week for Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles play East Carolina, which has one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Davis will need another strong, turnover free performance if Southern Miss is going to get the win.
Quote To Note: "Last year, the conference championship slipped away that easy, so we wanted to set the tone this first game." - Southern Miss linebacker Korey Williams.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Looking Good: There were lots of questions about the running game starting the season, and it didn't help that Southern Miss only mustered 67 yards in the season opener. But since then the Golden Eagles stable of back have churned out an average of 213 yards per game on the ground.
Still Needs Work: Penalties hadn't been a huge issue this season, till Saturday. Southern Miss committed 11 for 130 yards. Said coach Larry Fedora: The biggest problem I can see without looking at everything is that we had too many penalties. We had a penalty before we even kicked the ball off. We will have to look at some things and make some adjustments with those."