Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis has only six starts on his collegiate résumé but has already become an offensive leader for the Golden Eagles.

The redshirt freshman accepted most of the blame for the team’s worst offensive performance of the season in last week’s 24-7 loss to 15th-ranked Boise State, a game Southern Miss could have won with a little better production.

“I just didn’t feel like I executed the best I could,” Davis said as the Golden Eagles prepared for Saturday’s Conference USA contest at Rice. “I look at my role at quarterback as a leader and I didn’t play as well as I needed to. I just didn’t feel like I got the job done.”

The Meridian, Miss., native completed 15 of 34 passes for 160 yards, and his lone interception came late in the fourth quarter on fourth down, when he was forced to throw into coverage trying to pick up a first down.

His numbers were off his early-season pace, as he established a freshman school record by throwing for more than 200 yards in his first five games. Davis also broke former USM star Lee Roberts’ 1998 record of 27 completions when he connected on 33 of 50 passes against Auburn early this year.

“The stats don’t mean a whole lot to me,” said Davis. “If I had executed like I should, we would have a chance to win. There were some throws I should have made and there were a few miscommunications that we can’t have and have to be cleaned up.

“There are no major things that can’t be fixed. We just have to try to get better at what we’re doing because if we do things right this offense can really be successful.”

Davis has already shown the potential of the no-huddle, spread attack Larry Fedora installed at Southern Miss. He has passed for 1,425 yards in six games and the Eagles are averaging 422 total yards a game. They had 541 total yards against UTEP and a season-high 633 total yards against Louisiana-Lafayette. Last week’s 278 total yards against Boise State was a season low.