The Golden Eagle defense will face a tough test against Marshall on Saturday, and defensive coordinator Dave Duggan will look to turn things around against the Thundering Herd.
Southern Miss will face a Marshall team that is tough on both sides of the ball. The Herd are number one in C-USA in both offense and defense. "It's gong to be another tough road challenge," Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken said.
"If you really look at it, they're three tough losses from being 7-0. We've got a real challenge ahead of us. They're a really good team with a really good quarterback."
The Thundering Herd are in the top-5 in C-USA in total offense, passing offense, rushing offense, and scoring offense.
"They've got wideouts that are fast and athletic, wideouts that catch well, wideouts with size," Duggan said. "They also have backs with a lot of lateral quickness. They present a lot of problems and hopefully we can come up with a solution."
Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato is having a tremendous season, second in the conference in most passing categories behind ECU's Shane Carden. "He's a talented player and they're a talented offense," Duggan added.
Despite recent struggles for the defense, Duggan looks to positivity as the key to success.
"We are preaching positivity no matter what happens," Duggan said. "I think our players have done a great job with staying positive."
Getting off the field on third down has been a struggle for the Eagles, an area that will be tough against Marshall as they rank second in the conference in third down conversion. "Not getting off on third downs is really a combination of things," Duggan said.
"I take full responsibility for it. On one there was some confusion, there's an error on another one, he has time to throw on another one, it's a combination of everything. If we're not doing things correctly, that falls on me. I've got to do a better job of putting our guys in position to make plays."
The Thundering Herd show a lot of balance on offense, averaging 270 yards per game passing and 179 yards rushing.
"They're going to stretch out the back end of the defense and in order to help your back end you move guys out of the box, then they've got capable running backs to help stop that," Duggan said. "You've got to do a good job of eliminating some of those inside gaps and flatten the ball out so we can rally to it and come after them."
One positive to take away from the North Texas game for the defense was that they forced four turnovers, the most they have in any game since 2010.
"We had opportunities to take advantage of the turnovers and that was good to see, but ultimately we still turned it over ourselves," Coach Monken said. "It's the number one stat as to why you win or lose a game. Obviously we weren't able to take advantage."
The Golden Eagles will look to build off of positive such as these turnovers as they go on the road to face a tough test against Marshall. Rallying to the ball and getting pressure early will be key for the Southern Miss defense as they will look to rattle the Thundering Herd early. Coach Duggan knows the defense will need to play better to give the team a chance against a stout Marshall offense and defense, and he is ready to do just that by continuing to point out positive things, such as their four turnovers, to the defense.