Southern Miss

After balanced effort, Southern Miss preps for Charlotte

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD 
 Southern Miss receiver scores the first Golden Eagle touchdown against UTSA, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD Southern Miss receiver scores the first Golden Eagle touchdown against UTSA, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. SUN HERALD

The Southern Miss football team controlled the game from the outset as it rolled to a 32-10 win over Texas-San Antonio Saturday night in Hattiesburg.

USM had 556 yards of total offense, but left plenty of points on the field thanks to four turnovers and three chances in the red zone without coming up with a touchdown. Considering how well USM moved the ball, the margin of victory should have been significantly wider.

USM did have possibly the most balanced effort of Todd Monken's three years as head coach. Both Ito Smith and Jalen Richard rushed for over 100 yards while receivers Mike Thomas and D.J. Thompson both eclipsed 100 yards in the passing game. It was the fourth consecutive 100-yard game for Thomas and the first of Thompson's career.

The USM defense had its best performance of the season, limiting UTSA to a total of 205 yards. The Golden Eagles had five sacks and forced a pair of fumbles.

What's next

Southern Miss (4-3, 2-1 in Conference USA) has a good shot at picking up a win when it travels to Charlotte at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

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Charlotte is 2-4 and 0-3 in its first football season in Conference USA as it continues the transition to FBS. The 49ers have shown some improvement in recent weeks, including a narrow 37-34 loss at Old Dominion on Saturday.

Charlotte's biggest weapon on offense is junior running back Kalif Phillips, who has 125 carries for 703 yards and four touchdowns to lead C-USA in rushing. He had a career day Saturday with 35 rushes for 204 yards and two touchdowns.

Southern Miss will have to do a better job of holding onto the ball. After turning it over five times through the first five games, USM nine turnovers in the last two contests.

USM needs two more wins to reach bowl eligibility and should be a heavy favorite in three of its next five games with Charlotte, UTEP and Old Dominion all struggling this season.

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