Southern Miss

Southern Miss offense rolling with OC Chip Lindsey making the calls

 Southern Miss receiver Mike Thomas strikes a pose after catching a touchdown pass against North Texas Saturday in Hattiesburg.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD Southern Miss receiver Mike Thomas strikes a pose after catching a touchdown pass against North Texas Saturday in Hattiesburg. SUN HERALD

HATTIESBURG -- Southern Miss football coach Todd Monken delegated play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey this season in an effort to devote more time to all aspects of the team.

So far, so good.

Southern Miss is averaging 40.2 points per game.

Southern Miss is averaging 514.2 yards of offense per game.

Southern Miss has been successful on 43 percent of its third-down conversion attempts and 50 percent of its fourth-down conversion attempts.

Southern Miss has been successful on scoring touchdowns 68 percent of the time it has been in the red zone (20 yard line and closer) and has scored a TD or field goal 82 percent of the time it has been in the red zone.

Southern Miss has lost only five turnovers in five games -- three interceptions and two fumbles.

Southern Miss has completed 66 percent of its passes for 1,691 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Quarterback Nick Mullens was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week for passing for four touchdowns and running for another in Saturday's win over North Texas.

The Golden Eagles are 3-2 overall and 1-0 in C-USA heading into Friday night's game at Marshall.

"It's been pretty good," Monken said at a press conference Monday, knowing full well that every person in the room knew the answer.

Monken called the plays his first two seasons at Southern Miss, but the switch enables him to focus more on all aspects of the team.

"I'm still involved in the offense and always will be," he said. "I'm an offensive guy, but the scripting and the play-calling and what we do day to day is Chip Lindsey and (offensive line coach) Luke Meadows and (receivers coach) John Wozniak (and assistant head coach) Jon Williams and (running backs coach) John Simon. They've done a great job."

Calling plays is not simply a three-hour per week duty. It's an all-week affair, really an all-year thing.

"We went through the off-season talking about what we wanted to be, what we don't want to be, who we have, what our personnel has afforded us," Monken said. "I think they've done a great job week to week trying to figure out ways we can score points. But we'll see. We've got good coaches, we've got good players. We've got to continue to do it well."

Lindsey knows the results so far have been pretty good. There was the slow start at Nebraska -- no points in the first half -- and the four plays from inside the 3-yard line when they didn't score against Mississippi State.

But overall, even most fans would give the Golden Eagles a better than average grade on offense.

"You can always do better," Lindsey said.

He also said his life has not changed dramatically since assuming the play-calling duties.

"Coach Monken gave me a lot of responsibility last year and my role hasn't changed a whole lot from that perspective except for game day," Lindsey said. "Where I've been, I've always called the plays until I went to Auburn (in 2013), so that was a couple years off from that.

"It's fun, it's exciting, but the most fun we have, I think, are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, trying to build the game plan and figure out the best way to move the ball. Some weeks are better than others. Some drives are better than others. Our staff does a great job of helping me on that stuff."

That includes Monken, who has helped coach offenses since he got into the coaching business. That includes being the wide receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007-10.

"Oh, yeah," Lindsey exclaimed when asked if Monken sometimes had an idea about a play. "He's got ideas to pass along, no doubt.

"Coach Monken has been doing it a long time, very experienced and very smart. He's really good at seeing things on the field. We think we have a great relationship on game day.

"We all do. Coach Meadows, our O-line coach, does a nice job of dissecting what's going on up front. Running backs coach John Simon does a good job. We all have responsibilities on game day. Coach Woz, our receivers coach, coach Williams our tight end coach, everybody's got their own responsibility with their position that they are focusing on. I think we all do a good job communicating, which I think is a key to doing a good job on offense."