UCF Football Opponent Preview - Southern Miss

June 26, 2012

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By Mike Garabedian

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Following a Thursday night showdown with East Carolina Oct. 4, the UCF football team will host its second conference opponent in Southern Miss, which traveles to Bright House Networks Stadium Oct. 13. Last year, the Golden Eagles edged the Knights, 30-29, in Hattiesburg.

Southern Miss is coming off its best season to date by capturing a school-record for total victories and finishing in the top 20 in both major polls with a 12-2 record. The Golden Eagles captured their fifth Conference USA Championship after defeating Houston, 49-28.

The team averaged 36.9 points per contest last year to place 14th in the nation. The offense ranked ninth in the country in total yards with 6,459 from scrimmage.

The defense recorded a NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record eight interceptions for touchdowns. The opportunistic unit ranked No. 29 in total defense, No. 7 in passing efficiency and No. 26 in scoring defense.

The Golden Eagles begin the year with a whole new look to their coaching staff, with Ellis Johnson taking the reigns as head coach. Johnson served as the defensive coordinator at South Carolina for the past four seasons and was also the assistant head coach. He will be busy in the preseason, preparing a team that lost five offensive and six defensive starters this past season.

Offensive Player to Watch
Quarterback Austin Davis has graduated and leaves the offense with a question mark at the team's most important position. Davis was a fixture atop the Golden Eagles depth chart for the past four years, leading the Golden Eagles to their best season in school history. Chris Campbell and Ricky Lloyd will have huge shoes to fill as they replace the Conerly Trophy winner for the top collegiate player in the state of Mississippi. Campbell, a redshirt junior did not play a snap last season because of an injured shoulder in the fall. During the spring game, Campbell was 12-of-18 for 167 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown to Dominique Sullivan. Ricky Lloyd is a redshirt freshman who also hasn't played a snap in college. Lloyd was 14-of-28 with 199 yards in the spring game. Everyone will have to wait and see which quarterback separates himself as they continue to battle throughout summer and fall camps

Defensive Player to Watch
Jamie Collins returns to a defense that was ranked No. 29 in total defense a year ago. Collins plays the hybrid-bandit position, allowing him to roam the field attacking the ball. The pass-rushing linebacker was a dominant force last year with 98 tackles, 19.5 stops for loss, 6.5 sacks and eight pass break-ups. He also returned a 97-yard interception for a touchdown. As defensive captain, he will be asked to play an even more significant role with the defense losing six starters from a year ago and a new coach calling plays.

Knight vs. Golden Eagle Matchup to Look Out For
There will be plenty of intriguing matchups on gameday, but one of the more important ones will be fought in the trenches. Southern Miss lost both of its offensive tackles to graduation and will be looking for two players to step up and fill the void. The likely candidates will be senior LT Jason Weaver and junior RT Vincent Brown. UCF defensive lineman, led by Troy Davis and Victor Gray will need to put pressure on whichever quarterback the Golden Eagles decide to start if the Knights are to knock off the defending C-USA champs. Getting to the quarterback will be key in this game, as it will likely be only the second conference contest any of the USM quarterbacks have played.