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Southern Miss Golden Eagles Betting Predictions – Offense Will Hurt Golden Eagles Getting Out Of The Gate

Posted by Blake Frazier on 8/7/2012 6:19:58 PM

Some online betting players may have been surprised to see Southern Mississippi roll to a 12-win season and the Conference-USA title under Larry Fedora, but he had been building towards this over four years. Fedora then moved to North Carolina and it’s up to Ellis Johnson to keep the Golden Eagles’ status as a top mid-major. The offense could hinder that attempt, particularly early in the campaign.

Head Coach: Ellis Johnson (1st year)
Offensive Coordinator: Rickey Bustle
Defensive Coordinator: Tommy West
Stadium: M.M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS
Capacity: 36,000
National Championships: 2

Offense

The Southern Miss is going to undergo a major transformation with Austin Davis gone and Arsenio Favor or Chris Campbell taking over the reins for a unit that was 14th in points scored and 17th in total offense. Fedora is known as a great offensive mind, but the offense could take a step back in 2012 with a young quarterback and holes at the tackle (although they do have five guys back that have starting experience), although running back Jamal Woodyard and depth in the backfield will help take some of the pressure off the passing game. Rickey Bustle joined the staff under Johnson and he is expected to implement a run-heavy system similar to what he ran at Louisiana-Lafayette.

It is going to be a big change for the Golden Eagles, who put the ball up early and often with Davis, and this year could be difficult for players that figured they were going to play in a pass-first offense. Johnson and Bustle have to get the players to buy into their system or else it is going to be a disastrous year in Hattiesburg for the defending Conference-USA champions. The running game will at least carry the team early on with inexperience at quarterback and a talented but extremely green group of receivers.

Grade: C

Defense

The Golden Eagles had a few lapses on defense in 2011, but overall they were 29th in total defense and 26th in points allowed, which will always give you a chance to win and rise in the NCAA football betting odds. Johnson was finally given a chance to be a head coach because of his defensive background, which is a change for Southern Miss, and Johnson will pair with new coordinator Tommy West to try and keep the Golden Eagles on track. However, defensive end Jamie Collins and cornerback Deron Wilson are budding stars that could play on any big-name program in the country and that will give Johnson a leg up in his first season as a head coach since 1983 at Gardner-Webb.

This unit should keep the Golden Eagles in the game until the offense sorts itself out as Johnson is one of the best defensive minds in the country and many have wondered why it took so long for him to receive a head-coaching gig somewhere. His roots are in the SEC, so Johnson should be able to recruit a lot of good players to keep this unit above water, although Fedora left him some talent on this side of the ball, ironically.

Grade: B

Special Teams

Punter Peter Boehme helped the Golden Eagles have one of the top punting programs in the country and that will come in handy with an offense that could have trouble moving the ball early in the season. But they’ll have to replace Danny Hrapmann at kicker after three solid years of service as a four-year player.

Tracy Lampley may be more important to the special teams than to the receiving corps in 2012 and he will be a huge factor in the battle for field positions for Southern Miss.

Grade: B-

Prediction

Southern Miss is rated at +215 to win the C-USA East just behind Central Florida, and +475 to win the conference according to NCAA football betting odds. The Golden Eagles open up at Nebraska to while Louisville and Boise State all visit Hattiesburg within the first five games of the season, so they don’t have long to settle in under Johnson.

The defense should be fine as Johnson will be able to keep things going there, but the offense could struggle early on and that’ll put the Golden Eagles behind the eight-ball. Southern Miss would be a risky pick this season for sports betting players.

2012 Schedule

September 1st – at Nebraska (3:30 PM ET)
September 15th – vs. East Carolina (3:30 PM ET)
September 22nd – at Western Kentucky (7:00 PM ET)
September 29th – vs. Louisville (8:00 PM ET)
October 6th – vs. Boise State (TBD)
October 13th – at Central Florida (8:00 PM ET)
October 20th – vs. Marshall (7:00 PM ET)
October 27th – at Rice (1:00 PM ET)
November 3 – vs. UAB (7:30 PM ET)
November 10th – at SMU (TBD)
November 17th – vs. UTEP (8:00 PM ET)
November 24th – at Memphis (3:30 PM ET)

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