2012 OUTLOOK: To improve on what Southern Miss did in 2011 will be nearly impossible in 2012. Last year's Golden Eagles won a Conference USA championship, 12 games, and finished their 10th straight season in a bowl game. It has gotten to the point that the fans were somewhat disappointed in that bowl game -- mostly that Southern Miss was passed over for a BCS game. So what would make fans in Hattiesburg, Miss. happy this season? Call it competitive potential. Southern Miss lost enough key pieces that fans will be looking for future potential. But the Golden Eagles have enough pieces returning that fans should expect another bowl appearance.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
Southern Miss' new offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle plans to use the Golden Eagles running backs in the passing game more than the previous regime. Not a bad choice. Southern Miss has depth and talent in the backfield with four experienced players -- Desmond Johnson, Kendrick Hardy, Jamal Woodyard and Tracey Lampley, who will play more in the slot than in the backfield. The Hattiesburg American reported that receivers and quarterbacks spent much of the spring trying to get on the same page, which is not surprising considering that the program is trying to work in a new quarterback.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE
Last year, Southern Miss' offense was dominant in the spring. Not this year. "We beat them up today," safety Jacorious Cotton told the Hattiesburg American. Part of the reason is that even though the Golden Eagles have a new defensive coordinator, they remained in the 4-2-5 defense that was so successful for them last season. Two of the top returning players are defensive lineman Jamie Collins and defensive back Deron Wilson, who led the Golden Eagles in interceptions last season.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS
Senior punter Peter Boehme is the leader of this unit. He has looked strong in the spring according to the Hattiesburg American. Wideout Markese Triplett blocked a punt during a scrimmage.
QB Anthony Alford -- He is considered one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the country. Alford's elite athleticism makes it possible that he could excel as a receiver or defensive back if the passing proves too difficult.
WR Keithon Redding -- A combination of size, speed and strength, Redding could be a contributor early, but Southern Miss is a solid program with depth at receiver.
LB Calvin Perry -- Perry's physical attributes could allow him to get on the field earlier than most freshman, even if it's just on special teams. He has size, speed, agility and is known for his fundamental tackling.
--WR Markese Triplett played the slot position last year, but earned opportunities at the outside wideout position, and showed what he could do going downfield.
--OL Jason Weaver, a rare sixth-year senior, will move from right tackle to left tackle next season, according to the Hattiesburg American.
--OL Vincent Brown moved to right tackle, where he will take over for Weaver, and be the biggest player on the Southern Miss line.
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