Remember back a few months when Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens was in a heated quarterback battle with Tyler Matthews? At the time, it made perfect sense for Mullens to be forced to earn his job over the former four-star recruit and TCU transfer.
Mullens was coming off of two seasons starting for a Golden Eagles program that was 4-20 during that time. All of those losses cannot be pinned on Mullens as he made only six starts in 2013 as a freshman and 10 starts as a sophomore.
The brilliant flashes were there, including a 426 yard passing game game versus MTSU and 370 yards versus UAB. Even so, Mullens came into this season with 4,129 yards passing and 23 touchdowns for his Southern Miss career. Respectable numbers, but not standout for 16 starts and 19 games played.
Let's move forward a few months and see what has changed for the junior quarterback.
Earning the starting job for the season opener at home versus Mississippi State and playing the entire game, he was very impressive in throwing for 311 yards versus a quality SEC defense. That performance propelled Mullens into starting every game of the season at quarterback.
While head coach Todd Monken stated early in the season that Mullens would have to continue to earn his starting role, it was quickly evident that the Alabama native would not be giving up the role barring injury.
As we have seen, Mullens has not only been able to hold the starting position down, but also thrive in a way that has only been seen during the tenure of Austin Davis. Even the tenure of Brett Favre cannot equate with the mind blowing numbers that are put up on a regular basis by this team.
Take a look at the Southern Miss record books and you will see that this season has been the greatest season by a Golden Eagles quarterback in school history.
Yes, it has been an incredible season for Mullens, but just how incredible has it really been?
Pretty incredible to say the least. With the CUSA title game and a bowl game left to play, Mullens is the single season record holder in seven different categories. He also holds three single game records: touchdown responsible for (six), number of completions (36), and passing touchdowns (5).
2015 Records Set:
- Single season touchdown passes: 35.
- Single season passing yards: 3,964.
- Single season completions record holder: 291.
- Single season best passing efficiency: 159.3.
- Single season most touchdowns responsible for: 38.
- Single season most yards gained: 3,875.
- 3+ passing touchdown games in a single season: 7.
In addition to those individual statistics, the quarterback has led the program to the most yards in a single game with 682 versus Rice, as well as 40 or more points on seven occasions. That is good for exactly 500 points on the season.
Mullens has thrown for at least 265 yards in every game of the 2015 season, capped by 447 versus Nebraska. He is also only 22 passing attempts short of the single season mark of 475, currently sitting at 453 attempts.
So, what does he look like regarding career records with two games this season and a full senior year left to play?
There is only one name left among Southern Miss quarterbacks that Mullens is still behind: Austin Davis. Mullens is second among all Golden Eagles quarterbacks in five categories, while third in another.
- Second in career passing yards: 8,210. 2,682 yards away from the school record of 10,892.
- Second in career touchdown passes: 60. 22 away from the school record of 82.
- Second in 200 yard passing games: 26. Six away from the school record of 32.
- Second in 300 total offense games: 11. Six away from the school record of 17.
- Third in career passing efficiency: 134.2. 0.8 behind the school record of 135.4.
- Second in single game passing: 447. 14 yards away from the school record of 461.
To wrap up just how incredible and record breaking this season has been for Mullens, just look at his season statistics. His completion percentage is up almost 14%, he has thrown for two more yards per attempt than in 2014, and he has 10 more passing touchdowns in 2015 than in his previous two seasons combined. The most amazing statistic is the fact that he is only 282 yards passing from doubling his entire career passing total in 2015 alone.
With 8,210 career passing yards already under his belt and two games yet to play, another year in 2016 over throwing for 330.33 yards per game would put him at 12,834 career passing yards. That would hypothetically rank Mullens #16 all time in passing yards.
While these amazing individual accomplishments are great for Mullens, the only statistic that he cares about is putting as many W's on the board as possible. For a player that endured a 4-20 start to his college career, 9-3 is only breaking the surface of his potential.