Southern Miss

A close look at USM's QB options

It's unlikely that any college football team had worse quarterback play than Southern Miss had in 2012, but there's reason for hope at the position this year thanks to new head coach Todd Monken.

USM completed just 48.2 of its passes in 2012.... yes, 48.2. The Golden Eagle passers threw a total of nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Those numbers tell you all you need to know to understand why USM went 0-12 in 2012.

Monken is a respected mentor for college quarterbacks, and it will be up to him to find an adequate passer to significantly improve on last year's stats.

It will be a crowded field at quarterback this fall, and there's no sure thing that one of the seven will separate from the group.

Here are the options:

* ALLAN BRIDGFORD - A former four-star recruit who is a redshirt senior at California, Bridgford is hoping to graduate this summer from Cal to be eligible to play at Southern Miss in the 2013 season. At last check a little over a week ago, his graduation was still pending. However, he should land in Hattiesburg at some point this summer as planned. His numbers at California don't jump off the stat sheet. He has completed 44 of 100 passes for 461 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in limited playing time over the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Bridgford fits the mold of what you would want in a quarterback. There's a history of transfer quarterbacks having success in Conference USA, and there's good reason to believe that Bridgford can improve under Monken's teaching. Bridgford should immediately compete for the starting job, but he'll need to be a quick study.

* RICKY LLOYD - The redshirt sophomore had mixed results at best when he had the chance to play in 2012 before he got injured. Even though he didn't play at all in the spring because of a knee injury, Monken hinted that he would be the No. 1 man at the position going into the summer. He played in five games last year, completing 22 of 44 passes for 277 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Like Bridgford, he was a high school star in California. Former USM head coach Larry Fedora and his staff thought highly of Lloyd. Although he didn't participate in spring practice, he did go through some drills and, more importantly, he listened closely to Monken's instructions. He can be creative, but he's got to be more secure with the football. If Lloyd shows up strong in fall camp, he could be the starter in the season opener against Texas State.

* KYLE SLOTER - A redshirt freshman, Sloter had the opportunity to make a strong claim to the job in the spring. Unfortunately for Sloter, he did little to separate himself from the other quarterback working in the spring - walk-on Cole Weeks. The 6-foot-4 Georgia native stands tall in the pocket, has a nice arm and better-than-average mobility.

The biggest problem for Sloter is that he's a redshirt freshman who is starting all over again under a new staff. He has the potential to develop into a starter in Conference USA, but he may need another year or two to get there. He needs a big summer.

* COLE WEEKS - The walk-on had a quality spring and worked a lot with the first team. At 6-foot, 199 pounds, he's not the prototypical size for the position. He may be the smartest candidate in the group, but the odds will be stacked against him in the fall.

If things go south fast early in the 2013 season, Weeks may be option No. 3 or 4.

* CHRIS CAMPBELL - Unfortunately for Campbell, injuries have prevented the redshirt senior from reaching his full potential. He was USM's best option in 2012, but could never stay healthy. It's unlikely he will get snaps in 2013.

* PARKER ADAMSON - A true freshman from Oxford, he stands 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and definitely looks the part of a Division I quarterback. He and fellow true freshman Nick Mullens will enter fall camp in the same shape. Both were well-regarded out of high school, but will have to be quick studies.

* NICK MULLENS - The Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012 put up huge numbers at Spain Park High School, and he hopes to jump right into Monken's "Air Raid" system. He has a quick release and impressive accuracy down field, but he needs to add some bulk on his 6-foot-1 frame.