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April 10, 2010

Offenses impress in Black and Gold Game

After rolling up 746 yards of total offense in Saturday's Black and Gold spring game, the Southern Mississippi offense looks like it's ready for another big season.

That's about the only thing that will be familiar for the Golden Eagle offense when Southern Miss kicks off the season on Sept. 2 at South Carolina.

Gone are four starting offensive linemen and the school's all-time leading rusher Damion Fletcher, who graduated and took his 5,302 yards career rushing yards with him.

That didn't keep both squads from scoring at will on Saturday.

"I liked the tempo we played with on offense," Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said. "This is what I want our offenses to look like and this is the pace I want them to play with - this or even quicker."

The Black got the better of Gold Saturday 45-21, and senior V.J. Floyd emerged as a leading candidate to replace Fletcher, who behind that veteran line led the Golden Eagles to 2,358 rushing yards in 2009.

Floyd rushed for 83 yards on 12 carries and caught five passes for 112 yards, but Fedora said he would wait until fall to name Fletcher's heir-apparent.

"Coaches talked to me before the game about making a statement," Floyd said. "I think that's what I did. But, the important thing is that we have depth at this position, and we all bring something different to the table."

Senior quarterback Martevious Young completed 28 of 43 pass attempts for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Young started with the first-string in the absence of junior Austin Davis, who is recovering from a ligament tear in his left midfoot suffered in an Oct. 3 loss to UAB.

"The job is Austin's until Martevious takes it from him," Fedora said. "The doctor's tell me they are going to release Austin to go at full-speed on June 1, so we'll see how both do in the fall."

Young showed the kind of arm strength Saturday that he used to lead the Eagles to a 4-2 record in six Conference USA games after taking over for Davis, slinging touchdown passes of 37, 70 and 36 yards.

Fedora admitted the defenses employed by both defensive units Saturday was fairly vanilla, and said they employed a small number of basic blitz schemes.

Floyd is the most experienced of the returning running backs, with 59 yards in 2009 and 246 as a sophomore in 2008. The senior will try to hold off sophomore Tracey Lampley, sophomore Desmond Johnson and redshirt freshman Kendrick Hardy in the fall.

Center Cameron Zipp, the lone returning offensive lineman, said he
thinks this revamped offensive line will be ready to block for whoever
wins the job.

"This spring has been huge for us," Zipp said. "We've used it to get used to this fast paced offense everyone saw today, and we're going to bust our tails in the weight room this summer and bulk up."

At the pace both offenses sped down the field Saturday, they might need to spend more time on a treadmill than in the weight room.

Stay locked on BigGoldNation.com for more news and analysis on the Southern Miss Black and Gold Game.

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