Southern Miss

Hopson: Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens has his ‘zip back’

Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens throws down field after escaping the Savannah State rush.
Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens throws down field after escaping the Savannah State rush. ttisbell@sunherald.com File

Southern Miss four-year starting quarterback Nick Mullens is no longer wearing a bandage on his right hand.

Mullens hurt his right thumb in a 55-32 loss to UTSA on Oct. 8 and finished the game with a bandage on his hand, and he wore a protective glove in the Golden Eagles’ 45-10 loss to LSU on Oct. 15.

Mullens had thrown a touchdown pass in 22 straight games but that streak was halted by LSU.

On Monday morning, Mullens showed no outward signs of the injury as he entered the Southern Miss athletic center in preparation for Saturday’s 6 p.m. homecoming game against Marshall. Head coach Jay Hopson said Mullens has been throwing well in practice.

“Todd (McCall, Assistant Athletic Director/Sports Medicine) told me that when he played against LSU, he was like ‘80 percent and in three weeks time, he’ll be 100 percent,’” Hopson said Monday.

“Just watching him last week compared to the game against LSU, it’s night and day. He was still throwing the ball decent at LSU but now he’s got his zip back. He’s 100 percent. He’s throwing it well.”

Mullens completed 25 of 36 passes for 161 yards against LSU, an average of 6.44 yards per completion. Prior to the LSU game, Mullens was averaging 15.23 yards per completion.

With 136 yards against Marshall, Mullens will become the Southern Miss all-time leading passer. Austin Davis had 10,892 yards from 2008-11.

In Conference USA, Mullens ranks fourth in total offense (290.4 yards per game), fifth in passing yards per game (290.7) and fifth in pass efficiency (144.6 rating).

Another Golden Eagle who wasn’t 100 percent in the LSU game, defensive tackle Draper Riley, has improved physically. Riley missed most of the season with an ankle injury.

“At LSU, he was probably 80 or 90 percent, but hopefully we’ll have him at 100 percent this week,” Hopson said. “It helps to get another 300-pounder inside. He’s getting healthier and healthier. Glad to have him back.”

Notes

  • Southern Miss ranks first in Conference USA in rushing offense with an average of 194.6 yards per game.
  • Southern Miss ranks first in C-USA in time of possession with an average of 33 minutes, 18 seconds per game.
  • Southern Miss ranks first in C-USA in total defense with an average of only 336.3 yards allowed per game and first in pass defense with an average of 173.4 yards per game. Southern Miss ranks first in C-USA in first downs by an opponent, averaging 14.1 per game.
  • USM, mainly Tyler Sarrazin, ranks first in Conference USA in punting with a 42.3 yard average.
  • USM’s Parker Shaunfield ranks tied for first in C-USA in field goal percentage at 1.000 (11 for 11) and tied for first in extra-point percentage at 1.000(30 for 30).
  • Southern Miss’ defense ranks first in Conference USA in opponents’ third-down conversion percentage at 23.5 percent.
  • The last two times that Southern Miss has hosted Marshall, it was USM’s homecoming game at M.M. Roberts Stadium. This week’s game will be the third in a row when Marshall comes to town.
  • Hopson served an assistant coach at Marshall in 1996-2000.
  • The American Sports Network will televise Saturday’s game. Ron Thulin will do the play-by-play and Keith Moreland will be the analyst.
  • USM sports broadcaster John Cox will be the grand marshal in Saturday’s homecoming parade.

Game plan

Who: Marshall at Southern Miss

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Radio: 104.9 FM, 870 AM, 105.3 FM

TV: ASN

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