Southern Miss spring wrap

2008 overall record: 7-6

2008 conference record: 5-3 (third C-USA East)

Returning starters

Offense: 4, defense: 9, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

QB Austin Davis, QB Martevious Young, WR DeAndre Brown, WR/RB/Returner Tracey Lampley, C Cameron Zipp, DL Anthony Gray, DL Cordarro Law, LB Martez Smith, LB, Korey Williams, DB C.J. Bailey, DB Justin Wilson, P Peter Boehme

Key losses

RB Damion Fletcher, OL Kyle Burkhart, OL Ryan Hebert, TE Leroy Banks, WR Gerald Baptiste, WR/Returner Freddie Parham, LS Cody Tawater, DS Andy Hill, DB Andre Watson, DB Eddie Hicks

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Damion Fletcher (1,015 yards)

Passing: Martevious Young* (1,861 yards)

Receiving: DeAndre Brown* (785 yards)

Tackles: Korey Williams* (121 tackles)

Sacks: Korey Williams*, Cordarro Law* (7.5 sacks)

Interceptions: Eddie Hicks (5 INTs)

Spring answers

1. Unexpected running back depth: Losing the top two rushers from a year ago didn’t seem to faze the Golden Eagles this spring as they found more running back depth than they’ve had in some time. V.J. Floyd, Kendrick Hardy, Tracey Lampley and Desmond Johnson all played well this spring and will all have the chance to compete in the fall.

2. Defensive line gets better: The Eagles returned all of their starting defensive linemen from a year ago and they continued to get better in the spring led by end Cordarro Law, who had 11 tackles, including five sacks.

3. Kicking woes fixed: Going into spring, coach Larry Fedora said the kicking game was going to be the focus. Southern Miss missed 10 extra points last season and six field goals. Justin Estes and Daniel Hrapmann struggled with consistency and Fedora challenged both players to get better this spring. It seemingly worked as the kicking game was much better during the spring. Hrapmann surged into the top kicking spot and Matthew Little looks like he’ll add quality depth.

Fall questions

1. Offensive line still incomplete: Southern Miss is still trying to fill four positions on the offensive line and had some success during spring ball. Center Cameron Zipp is the only returning starter and Fedora leaned on the experience of junior college players Lamar Holmes and Jason Weaver to jump-start the line this spring.

2. Lots of RBs, but who will start? While the Eagles did find running back depth, it didn’t find a definitive replacement for the school’s all-time leading rusher, Damion Fletcher. V.J. Floyd will probably open the year as the starter, but Kendrick Hardy might ultimately be the team’s future as a big, bruising back.

3. Quarterback conundrum: Last year’s starting quarterback, Austin Davis, suffered a foot injury, which kept him out the whole season. Martevious Young did an admirable job in Davis’ absence and took the lead this spring. It’s unclear what Davis’ role will be when he gets back, especially since he’s missed so much time and Young has played so well.