HATTIESBURG — With Saturday’s 24-7 loss to Boise State, Southern Miss has dropped three consecutive home games for the first time since 1977 and now is in jeopardy of suffering its first losing season in 15 years.
The Golden Eagles (2-4) have not had a losing record since 1993 when they went 3-7-1 in Jeff Bower’s third season as head coach. Bower spent 17 years at Southern Miss before being forced to resign following the 2007 season and his replacement, Larry Fedora, is off to a shaky start.
Fedora brought an exciting, spread offense with him from Oklahoma State, but it hasn’t produced victories. The first-year coach will have to win four of the team’s remaining six games, four of which are on the road, to make the 2008 season a success.
“We’re disappointed as a staff and football team about where we are right now,” Fedora said after losing to the 15th-ranked Broncos. “I still think we are getting better. We’re going to find out about each other, every man in the room, including myself. We’re going to find out over the next few weeks what kind of character we have.”
The first problem Southern Miss has to address this week is correcting the mistakes that prevented the offense from producing less than 300 total yards for the first time this season. The team reached the end zone just once on running back Damion Fletcher’s 17-yard scamper in the second quarter.
USM had only 278 total yards against Boise State after averaging 452 yards through its first five games. The Eagles had only two possessions that gained more than 40 yards — the 55-yard scoring drive in the second period and a 43-yard drive late in the third quarter that ended at the Broncos’ 21 on fourth down. Southern Miss failed on all four of its fourth-down conversion attempts.