Southern Miss nose tackle Delmond Landry was on the field last week when the game ended and the Golden Eagles wound up with an improbable double overtime win over Louisiana Tech.
And he was a happy football player.
“I was jumping up, screaming, I was crawling,” Landry said. “I was doing all types of stuff.”
Having a good time for sure. But the 6-foot-4, 305-pound junior transfer out of Donaldsonville, La., and Southwest Mississippi Community College didn’t do everything he was thinking about.
“I wanted to do a backward flip,” he said, “but I’m too big.”
That depends on your way of thinking. Last season, Southern Miss suffered from a lack of size on the defensive line. But this year, with Landry at 305 and Draper Riley next to him at 304, the Golden Eagles rank second in Conference USA, behind Marshall, in rushing defense with an average of 116.0 yards per game allowed.
Southern Miss also is third in total defense, at 319.3 yards per game given up, in total defense in C-USA. And it has 14 sacks in helping the Eagles to a 5-2 record, 3-1 in Conference, going into this week’s game against UAB at 6 p.m. Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Individually, Landry has six solo tackles and four assists this season, with two tackles for loss and one fumble recovery. But there is more to being a defensive lineman than making tackles.
“Just having another big body in there, as big as he is, is huge for us,” USM defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro said. “It’s huge for the linebacker corps especially, because (the big guys on the defensive line) keep the offensive linemen off of them. They can go make tackles.
“He’s been a huge addition for us, for sure.”
Against Louisiana Tech, when the Eagles overcame a late 11-point lead to win 34-27, the Southern Miss defense held the Bulldogs to only 15 first downs and helped limit Tech quarterback J’Mar Smith to just 11 of 28 pass completions.
Most importantly, when the game was on the line in the second overtime, they dominated.
“The front did a great job of getting to Smith and making him feel the rush,” Pecoraro said.
Landry said they knew how important it was to come through in the clutch.
“Our life was on the line,” he said. “We were dialed in. They told us to play and we just executed.”
That they did. On everything except for the backward flip.
Who: UAB vs. Southern Miss
When: 6 p.m., Saturday
Where: Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg
Radio: WBUV 104.9 FM