?? When NFL legend and (maybe) Minnesota Viking quarterback Brett Favre stopped by a practice at his alma mater this spring, he reportedly told the players he might be watching Southern Miss this fall.
?? Well if the new grandpa and former Golden Eagle is going to like what he sees -- that?being their 17th straight winning season and more -- Southern Miss will have provided answers to some pressing summertime questions.
?? The top of the list is the offensive line, which will have four new starters.
?? Another possible concern is who will fill the cleats of record-setting back Damion Fletcher, a mainstay and stabilizer for the Eagles since his freshman season. There exist plenty of viable options, but, right now, there is still some uncertainty regarding exactly who will get the ball and when.
?? Then there was a defense that struggled against some of the powerful Conference USA offenses.
?? And last but not least, the kicking game needs to be more consistent if the Golden Eagles are to return to the top of Conference USA.??
?? --With four starters to replace, Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora told the Hattiesburg American that his offensive line's play this spring has been ?up and down.? The bad news is that they are still learning plays and were forgetting assignments through spring ball. The good news? Senior center Cameron Zipp, the only returner in the group, has turned into a leader. Also this group is said to be bigger and stronger than in the past.
?? --It's not easy to replace a back like Damion Fletcher who ran for more than 5,000 yards in his bright career. But Southern Miss is in a good spot with a capable quartet in V.J. Floyd, Tracey Lampley, Desmond Johnson and Kendrick Hardy.
?? SPRING MOVERS:
?? RB V.J. Floyd -- He capped a solid spring with what was likely the most impressive backfield performance in the spring game. Floyd netted nearly 200 yards rushing and receiving combined. He seemed to make a statement coaches had hoped to see from the veteran.
?? RB Kendrick Hardy -- Hardy showed the ability that made him such a sought after back coming out of high school on a 32-yard reception for a touchdown on a screen.
?? QB Martevious Young -- Because of the continued recovery of Austin Davis, Young got all the quality reps during spring ball. He also looked sharp in the spring game, hitting 28-for-43 on passes for 389 yards and four scores. It could make the starting competition interesting.
?? OL Cameron Zipp -- Zipp is the only remaining starter on the line and one of two seniors in the group. The other senior, Alex Michael, told the Hattiesburg American that Zipp ensures the group is always on the same page.
?? QUOTE TO NOTE: ?The offense had a great tempo going. They were moving the ball very quickly which is what we want to do. When they were doing that, the defense had a hard time stopping them." -- Southern Miss coach Larry FedoraSTRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
?? 2010 OUTLOOK: With experience at quarterback, wideout and sprinkled throughout the defense, Southern Miss looks to bounce back. They are expected to play faster and more consistently, especially in the kicking game.
?? SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Tempo dominates the talk surrounding the offense. The Golden Eagles are hoping to quicken the pace and wear out opponents. Seasoned play at the quarterback and receiver positions helps. The inexperience at offensive line does not.
?? SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: This group was embarrassed in the 2009 season's final stretch. Southern Miss ranked 80th nationally in yards allowed per game. The defensive line should be strong and much of the success should depend on the backs. Coaches have been bolstered by the fact the defense flew around more this spring.
?? SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: The Golden Eagles missed many field goals and PATs -- last season. Daniel Hrapmann, the kicker at season's end, is back. Newcomer Corey Acosta could get a shot.
?? ROSTER REPORT:
?? --Senior offensive lineman Trevor Newsom has been dismissed from the team by coach Larry Fedora for breaking an undisclosed team rule.
?? --Quarterback Austin Davis has been out since last October after tearing a foot ligament, but is expected to go full speed June 1.
?? --Southern Miss pushed back the Tulsa game to Friday, Nov. 26 to accommodate television.
Previous Report: 02/05/2010