Southern Miss

With QB situation uncertain, Southern Miss travels to ODU in need of win

ttisbell@sunherald.com

It'll be wait and see to find out who lines up behind center Saturday for Southern Miss.

The health status of USM senior quarterback Nick Mullens is uncertain while his backup, Parker Adamson, appears ready to go for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game at Old Dominion.

USM head coach Jay Hopson was optimistic to start the week that Mullens will play at ODU, but a decision likely won’t be revealed until Saturday.

"We will make that decision on Nick by Friday and Parker will be ready on Saturday," Hopson said Tuesday.

Both players took hard hits last week in a 38-27 loss to Charlotte, sending them to the sideline. Hopson did not comment on the nature of their injuries although it was apparent that staff members feared Mullens suffered a concussion.

Redshirt sophomore running back Tez Parks, a former quarterback in high school, replaced Adamson late in the game and Hopson openly contemplated whether to take the redshirt off freshman quarterback Keon Howard. At the moment, it appears as if Hopson will be able to redshirt Howard as planned.

If Hopson isn't comfortable with Mullens returning to the field, Adamson showed last week that he can move the offense. After replacing Mullens in the third quarter, he completed 13 of 27 passes for 155 yards and ran four times for 19 yards.

Stiff test

No matter who is at quarterback Saturday, USM (5-4, 3-2) should have its hands full against an Old Dominion team that earned bowl eligibility last week in a 38-14 win over Marshall. The Monarchs are 6-3 overall and 4-1 in Conference USA play, putting them in the hunt for an East Division title.

WKU has the edge in the East at 7-3 overall and 5-1 in C-USA play, including a 59-24 win over ODU.

A big key to ODU's success this season has been the efficient play of senior quarterback David Washington, who has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 1,947 yards, 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He's also a good athlete, running 50 times for 133 yards and one score.

One crucial aspect of Saturday's game for USM will be trying to slow down junior Ray Lawry, a powerful running back who ran 27 times for 209 yards and one touchdown in last week's win over Marshall. He has 111 carries for 740 yards and six scores this season.

USM has struggled against the ground game in recent weeks, giving up far too many long runs. In the last three losses, USM allowed 7.9 yards a carry.

Title hopes?

Saturday's contest is a must win if USM is to remain in the pursuit in the C-USA West. Louisiana Tech is in good shape in first place at 7-3 and 5-1. Texas-San Antonio (5-4, 4-2) sits in second place.

USM needs to win its final three games, including the season finale against Louisiana Tech, and have UTSA lose one of its two remaining C-USA contests to win the West Division.

Louisiana Tech is a 22-point favorite over UTSA for Saturday's game in Ruston, La. If USM wins Saturday and La. Tech follows through with a victory, the Golden Eagles will be very much alive in the West when they head to North Texas (4-5, 2-3) on Nov. 19.

Game plan

Who: Southern Miss vs. Old Dominion

When: 2:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Norfolk, Va.

TV: WXXV-Fox

Radio: 104.9 FM

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