HATTIESBURG -- Five offensive turnovers, busted defensive plays for long gainers, a low field goal kick, an off sides penalty that set up a touchdown, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after your only touchdown -- those things haunted Southern Miss in its 31-10 loss at Marshall last Friday.
Those have to be eliminated, USM coach Todd Monken said Monday.
The question is, how do you do it. Do you ride your players hard verbally or tell them it was just one of those games or do you spend extra time in practice working specifically on such mistakes?
"You have to correct the things that you can correct," Monken said.
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And wide receiver Michael Thomas' flamboyance after he caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Mullena with 6:08 remaining in the first quarter drew Monken's ire.
"The unsportsmanlike conduct, you've got to harp on that," Monken said. "That's silly. You can't decide when you think an official is going to call it. Have I seen worse than that? Yes. But hand the ball to the official, come on back.
"Cool is out, execution is in. That's the way it is. When cool becomes in front of execution, then we're all in trouble. It's become that. 'Look at me.' And Mike understands that. But once it's over Sunday, it's over. We've talked about it. Time to move on, see what UTSA does. But you certainly have to correct the things that stop you from being the team that you can be."
UTSA will be the Southern Miss homecoming opponent at 6 p.m. Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Southern Miss 3-3 overall and 1-1 in Conference USA.
The Roadrunners are 1-5 overall and 1-1 in C-USA.
But Monken says look past the Roadrunners' record, and for good reason.
They lost to Arizona, which was ranked No. 22 in the nation at the time. They lost to Kansas State, which took No. 3 TCU to the wire this past Saturday. They fell to No. 16 Oklahoma State. They lost to Colorado State, which played in the Las Vegas Bowl last year. And they lost 34-31 last week to Louisiana Tech, which was in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last season and was picked to win the West Division of Conference USA this year.
"There's a lot of teams in our league that would be 1-5 after those six games so we're going to have our work cut out for us," Monken said.
"I was hopeful that with them losing as many seniors as they had that really started that program and put it on the map that Coach (Larry) Coker had assembled, I was kind of hoping they wouldn't be as talented, as good a football team as they are."