2013 Southern Miss football's 10 things to know: Pretend 2012 never happened

Chuck Cook -US PRESSWIRE

Southern Miss made a confusing hire in replacing Larry Fedora with Ellis Johnson in 2012. The result was not only an end to the Golden Eagles' 18-year streak of winning seasons, but a complete and utter collapse to 0-12. After just one year, Johnson was replaced with Todd Monken, who perhaps should have been the choice all along. Monken inherits a team rich with experience and poor with confidence. Time to pretend last fall didn't actually happen.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. A correction:

From last year's Southern Miss preview:

The hire of Ellis Johnson over some young, hungry, offense-heavy assistant may have been confusing, but even if it were a terrible hire, we might not know for a while. The program would remain in pretty good shape for a while even if they had hired me.

It appears I may have been mistaken. It appears that if you reverse course following the success of an offense-friendly up-and-comer by replacing him with an aging career defensive assistant (albeit a damn strong one), it is possible to not only end an 18-year streak of winning seasons, but completely fall off the face of the earth in the process.

From 2005-11, Southern Miss ranked between 27th and 69th in the F/+ rankings every single year. The Golden Eagles were coming off of one of their best seasons ever in 2011; they had gone 12-2, whipped undefeated Houston to win Conference USA, and finished 20th in the AP poll, their third-highest finish ever. But when head coach Larry Fedora left for North Carolina (and a good majority of their impact players graduated), they replaced him with South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, who is by all accounts a good assistant and a good man. And in 2012, it got so, so much worse than one could have imagined.

Southern Miss went 0-12 and fell to 117th in the F/+ rankings, behind, among other teams, two FBS newcomers (No. 116 UTSA and No. 99 Texas State) and questionable Conference USA newcomer Florida Atlantic (No. 115). They pulled off an incredibly difficult feat: a 10-game turnaround from one year to another. In one direction, that is an amazing accomplishment. In Southern Miss' direction, that is a baffling, unforgivable collapse. And because of the magnitude of the fall, Johnson's tenure ended 12 months after it began.

Southern Miss hadn't suffered a losing season since 1993, but when streaks end, they sometimes end as harshly as possible. And now the Golden Eagles pick up the pieces, hand the reins to a young, hungry, offense-heavy assistant (former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken), and go about pretending 2012 was one giant mulligan.

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 0-12 | Adj. Record: 5-7 | Final F/+ Rk: 117
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
1-Sep at Nebraska 20-49 L 22.5 - 44.3 L
15-Sep East Carolina 14-24 L 16.1 - 14.4 W
22-Sep at Western Kentucky 17-42 L 27.5 - 39.3 L
29-Sep Louisville 17-21 L 20.8 - 19.3 W
6-Oct Boise State 14-40 L 31.5 - 23.9 W
13-Oct at Central Florida 31-38 L 35.1 - 25.8 W
20-Oct Marshall 24-59 L 17.5 - 38.5 L
27-Oct at Rice 17-44 L 15.2 - 35.8 L
3-Nov UAB 19-27 L 15.9 - 28.1 L
10-Nov at SMU 6-34 L 10.3 - 36.8 L
17-Nov UTEP 33-34 L 38.6 - 30.6 W
24-Nov at Memphis 24-42 L 23.3 - 52.1 L
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 19.7 112 37.8 116
Adj. Points Per Game 22.9 108 32.4 98

2. When do you think they knew?

For the first half of the 2012 season, Southern Miss honestly wasn't that bad. The Golden Eagles fell victim to both missed opportunities and a tough schedule; even if Fedora had returned, the turnover on the field would have probably resulted in losses to F/+ No. 19 Nebraska, No. 21 Boise State, and No. 28 Louisville. Southern Miss almost beat Louisville in a monsoon, took its lumps against Nebraska and Boise State, and nearly beat UCF. This wasn't a good team at any point, mind you, but the Golden Eagles were thoroughly mediocre over the first half of the season.

A 35-point home loss to Marshall on October 20, however, signaled the beginning of the end. That game was most likely the Saturday in which Southern Miss players, coaches, and fans began to realize that 0-12 was in play.

Adj. Points per Game (first 6 games): Opponent 27.8, Southern Miss 25.6 (minus-2.2)
Adj. Points per Game (last 6 games): Opponent 37.0, Southern Miss 20.1 (minus-16.9)

The Southern Miss of the second half of the season was two touchdowns worse than the Southern Miss of the first half. A semi-competitive team battling through youth and a coaching change became an utterly hopeless, demoralized squad, one that got whipped in each of its final three road games and couldn't even salvage a home win over UAB or UTEP.

In all, Southern Miss probably wasn't truly an 0-12 team -- an 0-4 record in one-possession games, along with some general competitiveness early on, suggests that 2-10 or 3-9 would have been a fairer, more equitable record. But that still would have been Southern Miss' worst record in two decades, and it still might have gotten Ellis Johnson dumped.

3. So now it's Monken

On the "Pretend 2012 Never Happened" checklist, hiring the type of guy you probably should have hired a year earlier is right at the top. Todd Monken has put together a lovely, creative resume through the years; he was Eastern Michigan's offensive coordinator for seven years in the 1990s, encompassing the "Charlie Batch passes for a million yards" era, he was a Les Miles assistant for five years at both Oklahoma State and LSU, he was an NFL position coach (well, sort of -- it was for the Jacksonville Jaguars) for five years, and he spent the last two seasons at the helm of Oklahoma State's plug-and-play point machine. His bona fides are strong and well-grounded in what some may call "traditional" football, but in his second stint in Stillwater he mastered the art of high pace and packaging concepts. At 47, he is both thoroughly experienced and young enough to still have flexibility in his ways. It really seems like this is the perfect time for him to take a head coaching job.

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 109 112 110 111
RUSHING 63 90 78 99
PASSING 112 112 123 105
Standard Downs 106 113 98
Passing Downs 107 85 115
Redzone 113 104 118
Q1 Rk 94 1st Down Rk 111
Q2 Rk 116 2nd Down Rk 91
Q3 Rk 113 3rd Down Rk 110
Q4 Rk 89

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Anthony Alford 57 127 664 44.9% 2 4 14 9.9% 4.1
Arsenio Favor


37 67 650 55.2% 3 3 6 8.2% 8.2
Chris Campbell 6'3, 200 Sr. ** (5.3) 27 55 322 49.1% 3 2 3 5.2% 5.1
Ricky Lloyd 6'2, 200 So. *** (5.5) 22 44 277 50.0% 1 3 4 8.3% 5.0
Cole Weeks 6'0, 199 Jr. NR 8 19 106 42.1% 0 1 1 5.0% 5.0
Kyle Sloter 6'4, 213 RSFr. ** (5.4)








Parker Adamson 6'4, 200 Fr. ** (5.4)








4. Of course, Monken will need a quarterback

Mike Gundy has built quite a machine as head coach at Oklahoma State. In 2009, he lost what was supposed to be a "once every couple of decades" quality trio in Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter, and Dez Bryant. (It was probably the best skill position trio at OSU since Gundy, Barry Sanders, and Hart Lee Dykes.) Instead, he replaced that trio with Brandon Weeden, Joseph Randle, and Justin Blackmon, and OSU improved. In 2010, he lost one of the nation's most innovative, electrifying coordinators in Dana Holgorsen. He replaced him with Monken, and OSU improved. In 2012, he lost Weeden and Blackmon, encountered some serious injury issues at quarterback, and struggled without a big-time No. 1 receiver. OSU plummeted from third in total offense and second in scoring offense to ... fourth and third, respectively.

This fall, we'll find out how much of those easy transitions were due to Gundy and how much were due to Monken. Either way, however, we know this: At OSU, Monken's and Gundy's offense put a lot of responsibility onto the shoulders of the quarterback. And at Southern Miss, quarterback was a bit of an issue in 2012.

Southern Miss enters 2013 with plenty of options despite the fact that last year's top two quarterbacks (in terms of the number of attempts, anyway) have transferred. Redshirt freshman Kyle Sloter has seen plenty of time with the No. 1s this spring as both Chris Campbell and Ricky Lloyd work to come back from injury, but one has to assume that the mental aspects of the Monken system might take a while to grasp. (Then again, OSU named a true freshman as its starter last spring.) Regardless, there are a lot of candidates here, and almost none of them have proven anything worthwhile.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Desmond Johnson RB 98 524 5.3 4.4 3 +1.2
Anthony Alford QB 91 413 4.5 3.7 6 -3.1
Jalen Richard RB 5'8, 205 So. ** (5.4) 87 426 4.9 4.6 4 -1.7
Jeremy Hester RB 5'6, 177 Sr. *** (5.5) 46 196 4.3 4.2 1 -5.6
Arsenio Favor QB 36 183 5.1 4.0 3 -0.9
Kendrick Hardy RB 6'0, 223 Sr. **** (5.8) 30 151 5.0 4.2 0 -0.5
Ricky Lloyd QB 6'2, 200 So. *** (5.5) 29 91 3.1 3.8 0 -5.1
Tyre Bracken RB 5'8, 186 So. ** (5.4) 13 60 4.6 3.3 0 -0.1
Chris Campbell QB 6'3, 200 Sr. ** (5.3) 9 29 3.2 2.3 0 -2.0
George Payne RB 6'0, 197 Fr. ** (5.4)





Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Tracy Lampley WR 46 25 330 54.3% 7.2 15.8% 50.0% 7.6 34.9
Justin Sims IR 5'7, 165 Sr. NR 43 20 294 46.5% 6.8 14.7% 39.5% 6.7 31.1
Francisco Llanos IR 5'8, 169 Sr. NR 36 20 226 55.6% 6.3 12.3% 44.4% 6.6 23.9
Dominique Sullivan WR 6'3, 201 Sr. *** (5.6) 35 19 331 54.3% 9.5 12.0% 60.0% 9.4 35.0
Chris Briggs WR 6'5, 214 Jr. *** (5.6) 27 11 144 40.7% 5.3 9.2% 37.0% 5.4 15.2
Quentin Pierce WR 22 11 251 50.0% 11.4 7.5% 59.1% 11.5 26.5
D.J. Thompson WR 6'3, 186 So. *** (5.5) 16 7 108 43.8% 6.8 5.5% 62.5% 6.8 11.4
Markese Triplett WR 6'4, 216 Jr. *** (5.7) 13 5 75 38.5% 5.8 4.5% 38.5% 4.4 7.9
Justin Burdette WR 12 8 62 66.7% 5.2 4.1% 75.0% 6.4 6.6
Jeremy Hester RB 5'6, 177 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 7 40 58.3% 3.3 4.1% 41.7% 3.1 4.2
Jalen Richard RB 5'8, 205 So. ** (5.4) 11 8 39 72.7% 3.5 3.8% 45.5% 2.8 4.1
Cooper Harrington WR 6'0, 188 So. *** (5.5) 3 1 9 33.3% 3.0 1.0% 66.7% 2.7 1.0
James Cox WR 6'0, 190 Fr. *** (5.6)








Branton Lee WR 5'8, 163 Fr. *** (5.5)








Draper Riley TE 6'4, 245 Fr. *** (5.5)








Jamarcus Revies WR 5'11, 175 Fr. ** (5.4)








5. Of course, Monken will need some receivers

The Southern Miss offense wasn't really good at anything in 2012, but it managed some decent run efficiency numbers. Depending on what it gets from its line, that could be expected again in 2013 with an interesting stable of backs (most notably 2010 star Kendrick Hardy, who struggled mightily last year) returning. But at OSU, Monken's offense relied heavily on balance, on utilizing the threat of both the run and pass at all times. And while the candidates at running back are interesting and obvious, both quarterback and receiver are unknowns.

Now, if you believe in recruiting rankings at least a little bit, you have to figure there is plenty of potential in the receiving corps. Converted quarterback Dominique Sullivan, a former high three-star recruit, has been a decent, if inefficient, big-play threat for a couple of years now, and in players like Chris Briggs, Markese Triplett, D.J. Thompson and Cooper Harrington, Monken inherits a series of reasonably experienced former three-star guys. The problem, of course, is that none of them have exactly shown much three-star potential. That foursome -- Briggs, Triplett, Thompson, Harrington -- combined for a horrendous 41 percent catch rate and a per-target average of 5.7 yards last year. Harrington has shown promise this spring, evidently, and more three-star freshmen are on the way, but there are no guarantees here ... or anywhere else on this offense, really.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 90.2 2.78 2.60 41.9% 52.6% 21.1% 77.4 7.7% 6.8%
Rank 105 89 107 32 120 98 95 108 68
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Austin Quattrochi C 48 career starts
Darius Barnes RT 42 career starts
Joe Duhon LG 40 career starts
Jason Weaver LT 29 career starts
Ed Preston RG 6'3, 309 Sr. ** (5.3) 23 career starts
Vincent Brown RT 6'5, 289 Sr. *** (5.5) 19 career starts
Rashod Hill LT 6'6, 285 So. NR
Taylor Peterson LG 6'4, 293 Jr. ** (5.2)
Jordan Greene C 6'3, 265 So. ** (5.4)
Jonathan Guerry RG
Cedric Chisolm OL 6'4, 278 Jr. *** (5.5)
Fredrick Moore OL 6'4, 325 Jr. *** (5.5)

6. Of course, Monken will need a line

Losing four players who combined for 159 career starts is never particularly good, but considering how poorly this line performed last year, you can certainly make the argument that new blood isn't a bad idea. Southern Miss does have a pair of pretty experienced seniors in Ed Preston and Vincent Brown, and Monken brought in a couple of three-star JUCOs, not to mention a pretty line-friendly system in general. At worst, I see this line duplicating last year's poor numbers and not sinking any lower. At least marginal improvement is perhaps likely.

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 85 90 93 87
RUSHING 110 105 104 103
PASSING 44 80 71 82
Standard Downs 97 102 94
Passing Downs 70 62 72
Redzone 117 118 116
Q1 Rk 73 1st Down Rk 86
Q2 Rk 89 2nd Down Rk 104
Q3 Rk 113 3rd Down Rk 82
Q4 Rk 75

7. A familiar face on defense

The Southern Miss offense is receiving a much-needed overhaul this season. The defense, on the other hand, is simply hitting the rewind button. David Duggan, a defensive co-coordinator for Southern Miss under Fedora, returns to Hattiesburg after a year as Fedora's outside linebackers coach in Chapel Hill. With one of the better lines in the country (at any level), Duggan's 2011 Southern Miss defense was aggressive and fun; despite Ellis Johnson's defensive background, the 2012 Southern Miss defense was neither of those things. So Duggan returns to see a lot of the same faces he left in 2011; as with the offensive line, improvement is probable. We'll just have to wait and see how much improvement comes.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 92.7 3.17 3.53 44.3% 84.8% 18.7% 93.0 5.0% 6.2%
Rank 93 95 93 117 124 74 76 49 64
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jamie Collins DE 12 79.0 11.7% 20 10 0 5 4 0
Khyri Thornton DT 6'3, 308 Sr. **** (5.8) 12 29.5 4.4% 9.5 1 1 1 1 0
Rakeem Nunez-Roches DT 6'2, 290 Jr. ** (5.4) 12 29.5 4.4% 6 1 0 1 1 0
Khalid Wilson DT 12 23.0 3.4% 3 0.5 0 0 0 1
Michael Smith DE 6'4, 262 So. *** (5.5) 12 21.5 3.2% 6.5 1 0 0 0 1
Brandon Francesconi DE 12 16.5 2.4% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Dasman McCullum (2011) DE 6'4, 237 Jr. *** (5.6) 14 16.0 1.9% 3 0.5 0 2 0 0
Wil Freeman DE 6'6, 241 So. *** (5.5) 11 11.0 1.6% 1.5 1 0 1 0 1
Anthony Wilson DE 6'3, 227 Sr. *** (5.5) 11 5.0 0.7% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Joel Ross DT 11 4.5 0.7% 2 0 0 1 0 0
Dalvin Craft DT 7 4.0 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Adam Williams DT 6'2, 282 Jr. *** (5.5)
Rod Crayton DT 6'1, 290 Fr. *** (5.7)

Dylan Bradley DT 6'1, 255 Fr. *** (5.6)
Christopher Robinson DT 6'2, 280 Fr. *** (5.6)

Jerry Harris DT 6'3, 295 Fr. ** (5.4)

8. A once-proud line

The benefit to hiring Ellis Johnson, in theory, was that it would continue Southern Miss' recent defensive improvement. The Golden Eagles had gone from 95th in Def. F/+ in 2009, to 54th in 2010, to 19th in 2011. And despite having to replace stars like end Cordarro Law, tackles Deddrick Jones and Terrance pope, and linebacker Ronnie Thornton, and cornerback Marquese Wheaton, there was enough star power returning, especially up front, to assume reasonable continuity. Not so much. Despite solid play-making from tackle Khyri Thornton, Southern Miss' line play was particularly woeful; the Golden Eagles were dead last in Power Success Rate (stopping short yardage situations) and in the bottom 10 in Opportunity Rate (preventing downfield opportunities on the ground), and despite the return of end Jamie Collins, the pass rush was thoroughly mediocre.

Duggan inherits some nice athleticism here, and he certainly knows most of these players already, but a return to quality up front will mean a lot for a defense that returns most of its two-deep in the back (every linebacker of consequence returns, as do most defensive backs, including potential star corner Deron Wilson) but needed a little more help from the line than it received in 2012.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Alan Howze LB 6'3, 227 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 48.5 7.2% 5 2.5 0 1 1 2
Dylan Reda LB 6'1, 230 Sr. ** (5.4) 12 41.5 6.1% 2.5 0 1 0 2 0
Terrick Wright LB 6'2, 211 So. *** (5.6) 12 23.0 3.4% 3 2 0 1 0 0
Justin Penn LB 6'1, 212 Jr. *** (5.5) 10 16.5 2.4% 3 0 0 1 0 0
Jamil Murray LB 6'0, 203 So. NR 4 4.0 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Leiland Ducksworth LB 6'1, 207 RSFr. *** (5.6)







Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Deron Wilson CB 5'10, 181 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 51.0 7.6% 0 0 1 9 0 1
Emmanuel Johnson S 5'11, 181 Jr. *** (5.5) 12 39.0 5.8% 2 0 0 2 0 0
Jacorius Cotton S 5'11, 195 Sr. *** (5.5) 9 34.5 5.1% 0 0 0 0 1 0
Martez Thompson S 12 33.0 4.9% 1.5 0 0 2 0 0
Jerrion Johnson S 6'0, 205 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 31.5 4.7% 3.5 0 0 5 0 0
Alex Smith S 5'10, 194 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 21.0 3.1% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Reggie Hunt CB 11 19.5 2.9% 0 0 1 2 0 0
DeBarrius Miller S 5'10, 183 So. ** (5.2) 10 19.5 2.9% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kalan Reed CB 5'11, 198 So. *** (5.5) 12 17.0 2.5% 1 0 1 2 0 1
Ed Wilkins CB 5'10, 166 So. ** (5.4) 10 13.5 2.0% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Clifford Johnson DB 9 10.5 1.6% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Alexander Walters CB 5'10, 174 Sr. ** (5.4) 8 4.0 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Antonio Thomas, Jr. DB 5'10, 194 RSFr. *** (5.5)
Kelsey Douglas DB 5'11, 175 Fr. ** (5.4)
Trae Collins DB 5'11, 181 Fr. ** (5.4)
Jalen Square DB 5'10, 180 Fr. ** (5.4)

9. Senior leaders abound

If there's one thing Southern Miss has going for it beyond recruiting rankings, it's experience. Four of the top five returning defensive backs are seniors, as are the top two linebackers and Thornton up front. When you are undergoing your second coaching change in two years, any continuity you can find is a good thing. This defense has plenty of players who remember what winning is like despite the fact that Southern Miss hasn't actually won a game in going on 16 months now.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Peter Boehme 63 40.0 3 15 19 54.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Corey Acosta 6'0, 185 Jr. 47 57.3 8 17.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Corey Acosta 6'0, 185 Jr. 27-28 5-8 62.5% 6-9 66.7%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Justin Sims KR 5'7, 165 Sr. 19 22.6 0
Tracy Lampley KR 19 20.7 1
Jalen Richard KR 5'8, 205 So. 10 25.9 0
Tracy Lampley PR 4 7.8 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 100
Net Punting 82
Net Kickoffs 121
Touchback Pct 113
Field Goal Pct 86
Kick Returns Avg 68
Punt Returns Avg 86

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2012 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
31-Aug Texas State 107
7-Sep at Nebraska 20
14-Sep at Arkansas 37
28-Sep at Boise State 12
5-Oct Florida International 99
19-Oct at East Carolina 81
26-Oct North Texas 112
2-Nov at Marshall 79
9-Nov at Louisiana Tech 89
16-Nov Florida Atlantic 116
23-Nov Middle Tennessee 98
30-Nov at UAB 105
Five-Year F/+ Rk 62
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 66
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -16 / -5.3
TO Luck/Game -4.5
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 13 (5, 8)
Yds/Pt Margin** +5.2

10. Survive September

If Southern Miss rebounds just to the point of being a Top 80 team this fall, there are wins on the schedule. Considering their toughest home game is against Middle Tennessee, the Golden Eagles should be expected to go undefeated (or at least 4-1) in Hattiesburg, and road trips to UAB and Louisiana Tech, at the very least, are winnable. But threatening to return to bowl eligibility will depend, in part, on the impact of the pummeling they might be expected to take in a rough three-week stretch in September. Southern Miss is likely to be 1-3 following trips to Nebraska, Arkansas, and Boise State (and that's assuming it can get past a salty Texas State squad); that would mean that, overall, the Golden Eagles will have lost 15 of their last 16 games. Bounce back starting with the FIU game on October 5, and you can find quite a few wins the rest of the way. I really like the hire of Monken overall, but his immediate success could be as dependent on confidence as scheme or talent.

In some ways, 2012 didn't happen. At least, the year didn't unfold the way that some people interpreted it would from the Mayan calendar. For Southern Miss, it would indeed be best to simply forget that the doomsday effect of the 2012 season ever happened and move on. That's easier said than done, but with a potentially strong hire (one the school perhaps should have made 12 months earlier) and a solid reservoir of experience from which to draw, it isn't impossible.

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