One of the biggest goals for college football programs across the country is to evolve and stay modern. That includes anything from on-campus football facilities to the social media department for teams. The latter is being capitalized on quite successfully by Clemson, which is fresh off of its national title victory over Alabama in January.
Special teams was a weapon. Hopson tried three different guys on kickoffs and never found a particularly good one, but Parker Shaunfield is an excellent place-kicker (6-for-7 on field goals longer than 40 yards), and Staggers is a terrifying, if inconsistent, punt returner. On kick returns, Tez Parks and Isaiah Jones are consistent, if not explosive. Southern Miss’ special teams unit was top-30-caliber and might be again.
Let’s see … experienced, explosive running backs and receivers … high-havoc defensive front seven … inexperience at quarterback, safety, and maybe offensive line … that’s a recipe for volatility if I’ve ever heard of one.
This could be an extremely Southern Miss Southern Miss. The Eagles get shots at SEC wins against Kentucky (Sept. 2 in Hattiesburg) and Tennessee (Nov. 4 in Knoxville), and S&P+ projects three relative tossups on the road (Oct. 7 at UTSA, Oct. 21 at Louisiana Tech, Nov. 25 at Marshall). The SASM scale says they beat Tennessee and lose to Marshall. We’ll see.
Leaving volatility out of the equation, this could be a solid team. The question marks are obvious — quarterback turnover alone is why Southern Miss is projected to fall from 78th to 84th in S&P+ — but the athleticism is, too.
But you can’t really leave the volatility out of the discussion, not after what we saw last year and not with what we see as red flags this year.
This could be a wild season in Hattiesburg. All is right in the universe.