Monday, October 24, 2005

Next Victim: Southern Mississippi

Okay, okay. Perhaps "victim" isn't the right word.

USM head coach Jeff Bower offered some standard fare about the Wolfpack in his Monday press conference:

“They are a talented team. Their record doesn’t indicate how good they are. They had Virginia Tech on the ropes and had a chance to win that game. The thing that has hurt this team the most is penalties and turnovers. They’ve played well enough to win if they don’t do some of those things. They have a very good defense. Their front four are very good and preseason publications had their defensive line as the best in the country. They are really good there. They have active linebackers. They will pressure you a lot and play a lot of man coverage. ..."

Et cetera.

Noteworthy from the press conference: USM is dealing with an injury in its secondary. Bower laments the fact that his defense has given up some big passing plays.

I don't know that we're in any position to take advantage of whatever issues Southern Miss has at corner, but considering the strength of Marcus Stone's arm, I think we're likely to take some shots.

Stone averaged over 20 yards per completion in the Wake Forest game:

Stone, M. sideline pass complete to Williams, T.J. for 25 yards to the WF40
Stone, M. crossing pass complete to Hill, A. for 21 yards to the WF22
Stone, M. flag pass complete to Clark, B. for 36 yards to the WF0, TOUCHDOWN
Stone, M. flag pass complete to Clark, B. for 30 yards to the WF6
Stone, M. slant pass complete to Hall, T. for 19 yards to the WF0, TOUCHDOWN
Stone, M. screen pass complete to Washington, B. for no gain to the NCS22

Granted, I didn't see the game, so I don't know how much YAC was involved.

Judging from Southern Miss's depth chart, their defensive line poses problems for the Pack's running game. Then again, with the way we've been running the ball, who doesn't pose problems? The Eagles have an upper-classmen-laden starting lineup, but there is a good bit of youth on the second string. Can NC State's offense stay on the field long enough to make depth a factor?

The Durham Herald-Sun posted a short piece on USM senior quarterback Dustin Almond. Almond and the passing game are USM's strengths. They rank 80th in total offense, 44th in passing offense. Aside from a 4 INT disaster against Tulsa, Almond has been good, particularly of late.

In his last two games (against UCF and UAB), Almond is a combined 41-70 for 524 yards, 8 TDs and 1 INT.

Like NC State, the Golden Eagles are weighted-down by their ground game, which ranks 93rd in the country (the Pack's running game has dipped to 109th...ouch).

Expect to see a couple of one-dimensional offenses on Saturday.