HATTIESBURG — Looking at some of the numbers, Saturday wasn’t the greatest of days for Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens.
But looking at others, it was a record-setting day for the personable senior.
Mullens completed 22 of 40 passes for 300 yards and one touchdown in the Golden Eagles’ 24-14 Conference USA football victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Mullens has now thrown for 11,057 yards in his USM career, more than Austin Davis, more than Brett Favre, more than Dustin Almond, Jeff Kelly, Reggie Collier, Lee Roberts and all the other greats over more than 100 years of football.
Going into the game, Davis — who now plays for the Denver Broncos — had the Southern Miss career record of 10,892 yards and Mullens was second with 10,757.
“A.D. texted me (last week),” Mullens said. “He said, ‘Easy on my records.’ I told him wins and championships are all that matters.”
There was little doubt that Mullens would break that record and another one before 31,275 homecoming fans at M.M. Roberts Stadium on Saturday night.
He got the career passing record on an 11-yard screen pass to running back Ito Smith late in the second quarter. It was set up by a 52-yard pass to tight end Julian Allen.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Mullens said. “But I’m just glad we won. Homecoming, the record, it’s pretty stressful but exciting. Every time you get to play at The Rock it’s a blessing. It was a great night at Southern Miss, we’ve just got to go 1-0 four more times.”
Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson, whose team is now 5-3 overall and 3-1 in Conference USA, lavished Mullens with praise after the win.
“Nobody deserves (the record) more than Nick,” he said. “He’s a guy who has been a true soldier at Southern Miss. Every day he’s going to give you 100 percent. He’s got that ‘it factor.’ He’s a leader, a competitor and is what you want in a football player.”
Hopson, who coached Alcorn State the three previous seasons, had heard about Mullens, even coached against him a couple of years ago. But he learned about his quarterback quickly.
“After the second week we knew this guy was special,” Hopson said. “In the spring, we said, ‘Wow, this guy is a football player.’ Now, we could sit here five hours and talk about him.”
The other record was for the most 200-yard passing games. Mullens now has 33, while Davis had 32.
Dylan Bradley, the lineman who is the star of the USM defense, said you won’t hear much about records from Mullens.
“Nick is nonchalant,” Bradley said. “He’ll thank his receivers. He’ll thank his offensive line. Then it’s on to the next game.”
That may be right, because No. 9 said he didn’t know he was nearing the record until his girlfriend told him. But he did admit to looking at the big picture, from his freshman season when the team went 1-11, to now.
“I committed to Southern Miss because I knew they were going to win,” Mullens said. “They were a winning program. The years of winning are back. It is nice to think back, especially beating Marshall (after USM had lost five straight times to the Thundering Herd).
“You start to reminisce on all the good times we’ve had here at Southern Miss. We have one four-game stretch to finish strong. Every day we’re writing our legacy. We’ve got to savor every moment.”