Southern Miss has shown signs of improvement this year, and with one game remaining in 2014, the Golden Eagles are 3-8 (1-6 in CUSA). While that doesn't sound great, that triples the win total from 2012 and 2013 combined. It's time to take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from Southern Miss' season to date.
The Good - Nick Mullens and the passing offense
Nick Mullens started for the second half of the 2013 season and came into the 2014 season as the starter and has improved this year. Despite missing three games this year, Mullens has thrown for 2,207 yards (good for #5 in Conference USA) and 13 touchdowns. Southern Miss is #4 overall in the conference in passing yards and #35 in the country. Mullens has thrown for 300+ yards twice including a 426 yard performance against Middle Tennessee in October.
(Honorable mention: Corey Acosta and the Southern Miss placekicking. Acosta is 18-22 on field goals this year. That puts him tied for 7th in FBS in made field goals.
The Bad - Rushing defense
Despite some signs of progress throughout the season, the Southern Miss rushing defense still has much to improve on. The Golden Eagles are allowing over 200 yards per game on the ground which is #10 in Conference USA and #104 in the national FBS rank. This includes giving up 335 yards rushing against Marshall, The Herd averaged almost nine yards per carry. However, there have been some bright spots, including only giving up 30 rushing yards to Kenneth Dixon and the Louisiana Tech rushing attack.
The Ugly - Turnover margin
I commented back in September that Southern Miss had done a complete 180 from 2013 in not turning over the football as much. Unfortunately, since then, it's gone downhill for the Golden Eagles in that category. Southern Miss has a turnover margin of -9 this season and is turning the ball over more than twice a game on average. Still, it's an improvement from last year, when Southern Miss ranked dead last in FBS turnover margin at -19.