Southern Miss

All eyes are on Mullens, Doughty in C-USA title tilt

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD 
 Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens actually visited Western Kentucky before ultimately signing with the Golden Eagles. He'll face the Hilltoppers in the C-USA championship game on Saturday.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens actually visited Western Kentucky before ultimately signing with the Golden Eagles. He'll face the Hilltoppers in the C-USA championship game on Saturday.

With Southern Miss and Western Kentucky set to collide Saturday in the Conference USA championship game, a shootout appears in the works with the teams featuring two of the most prolific quarterbacks in the nation this season.

WKU redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Doughty ranks fifth in the nation in passing yards with 4,184. The man sitting behind him in sixth place is USM junior quarterback Mullens, who has 3,964 yards.

The two will go head-to-head at 11 a.m. Saturday in Bowling Green, Ky., in a game that will be televised by ESPN2.

On Tuesday, WKU head coach Jeff Brohm and USM head coach Todd Monken took the time to pick apart the opposing quarterbacks.

Brohm knows Mullens well thanks to the fact he recruited him during the 2012 season at UAB before he moved to WKU to become Bobby Petrino's offensive coordinator in 2013. Brohm took over at WKU (10-2) before the 2014 season when Petrino returned to Louisville.

"I really liked Nick," Brohm said Tuesday in a teleconference. "I had him in camp and he was an accurate passer. He could anticipate throws and he could throw into windows. He reminds me of (Doughty). They're both similar in what they can do. What Nick didn't have is he wasn't 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. He was 6-1, 180 at the time.

"He was a kid that you knew would mature and grow. At that point, he still had a little bit of that to do. He ran a great offense (at Spain Park High School in Hoover, Ala., under current USM offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey). He put up some great numbers."

Mullens was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama during his senior season at Spain Park, but didn't receive many scholarship offers. Jacksonville State, Murray State and UAB were among the schools that showed interest.

Mullens made a recruiting visit to WKU in 2012 and it just so happened to be the weekend that WKU was hosting Southern Miss in Bowling Green, Ky.

The Hilltoppers trounced USM, 42-17, that day before a school-record crowd of 23,252.

"To be able to take a recruiting visit there and watch Southern Miss play and then to be able to play a conference championship game there, it's pretty awesome," Mullens said. "It's really cool to look back and see how far we've come."

Little did Mullens know at the time, but it would be USM he would end up playing for. Monken convinced the quarterback to switch his verbal commitment from UAB to USM after he was hired to take over the program.

Brohm isn't surprised to see Mullens putting up big numbers at USM (9-3).

"Some people may have thought he was a product of the system, but we really liked him," Brohm said. "He may not be able to throw it 100 yards, but he's very accurate and he knew how to play the position. I'm glad he's had the success he's had. He deserves it."

Mullens has completed 64.9 percent of his passes with 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

While Mullens has emerged as one of C-USA's top quarterbacks this season, Doughty has simply lived up to the billing as one of the nation's top senior quarterbacks.

He has completed 72.5 percent of his passes with 42 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

Doughty is just the third quarterback in FBS history to account for 4,000 yards passing and 40 touchdowns in consecutive seasons.

He has the full respect of Monken.

"He is a special player and they've done a great job with him," Monken said Tuesday. "They play well around him. He's a tremendously talented guy that goes through all of his progressions and and sees the field. He's coached well. They create great concepts. They've got good skill guys at every position. He's the whole package and they've done a great job as a staff."

Doughty is projected as a third or fourth round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft by CBSsports.com.

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