Coverage Breakdown: Hattiesburg @ #4 Picayune
Players to Watch
Josh Littles - Not only has Littles rushed for 113 yards or more in the Maroon Tide’s six games this season, he is averaging 194.2 yards per game. Additionally, he’s rushed for a touchdown in each game, as well, highlighted by his five scoring runs against Gautier. There is something to be said for being the top rusher on one of the best rushing teams in Mississippi. The Tide average 356 yards per game on the ground.
Skylar Bowman - While Bowman’s numbers don’t jump off the page, he is the starting quarterback for a team that is undefeated and sits at number four in the SES top 10. Bowman has been steady, and reliable when needed, as evidenced by his three touchdown tosses and 294 yards passing. His longest pass this season went for 70 yards and he averages 24.5 yards per completion. He makes the big plays when defenses load the box.
Shaun Anderson - Without a doubt Anderson is Picayune’s best utility player. Along with his 304 yards, on 10.1 yards per carry, and three scores on offense, he has tallied 24 tackles, six pass deflections, an interception and a forced fumble on defense. He returned two kicks for a combined 95 yards against Gautier. He can do anything he’s asked and that could factor into this game in a big way.
Brian Taylor - Taylor ranks second on the team with 44 tackles. His three sacks also rank second for the Tide defense. He has also tallied seven tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. On offense he has two carries, one of which went for a touchdown.
Rashard Johnson - Every great defense needs a great pass rusher. That is exactly what Johnson is and his team-leading five sacks proves. He has registered a sack in four games this season and got the quarterback twice against Gulfport earlier this season. Additionally, he has eight tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. If it’s going on in the backfield, Johnson is likely all over it.
Julian Conner - Though he plays quarterback for the Tigers, Conner could just be the best athlete in purple and yellow on Friday nights. His presence is felt on each offensive play, due to his ability to bring balance to the unit and his knack for making plays. He averages 250 yards passing and 43 yards rushing each game. On the season he is responsible for 25 touchdowns.
Jordan Murphy - Murphy can be identified by many of his accomplishments and accolades, but most notably he is a commitment of SEC East power Tennessee, a three-star prospect according to 247sports and a Fortius Project alum where he was an all-combine performer. He is the team’s go-to wideout and leads the team with 36 catches, 776 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions.
Fabian Franklin - Like Murphy, Franklin is also a coveted player for SEC teams on the recruiting trail. He is ranked as a four-star prospect for the class of 2018 by 247sports and already has a few scholarship options in the SEC. Additionally he was projected as the 5A Player of the Year in the preseason by SES. So far he has rushed for 582 yards, on 7.3 yards per tote, and nine scores, to go along with 93 yards receiving.
William Robinson - Playmakers on the defensive side of the ball will be needed for the Tigers in this matchup. Linebacker Willie Robinson is one the guys who can make those plays and help impact the outcome of this game. Robinson is another Tiger who is already on SEC radars for the next level. This season he has 41 tackles, nine for loss and two sacks.
Raykell Ducksworth - Ducksworth could impact this game in two separate areas. Not only does he have three interceptions and a fumble recovery this season, but he also has dropped 15 punts inside the 20 and averages 35.5 yards per punt. Look for him to leave a mark on this game, either on defense, special teams or perhaps both.
Keys to the Game
Can Hattiesburg find the balance they need to be able to win this big game? When the Tiger offense has been balanced - they average 264 yards passing and 257 yards rushing per game - they have been successful.
Does the ground dominance continue for Picayune against a defense speckled with talent? Tide averages over 350 yards per game on the ground
Which quarterback-running back duo shines brighter, Conner-Franklin for Hattiesburg or Bowman-Littles for Picayune? The winner of this match-up likely decides the game.
Hattiesburg has found themselves in high-scoring match-ups this season. If that happens in this game, can they keep up and outscore the Maroon Tide? After all, that would be familiar territory for the Tigers, but not the Tide.
Shaun Anderson - While Ducksworth is very similar as he helps Hattiesburg in many ways, but Anderson is the most versatile player who will be on the field in this game. I feel like he makes a big play on both sides that could just give Picayune an edge in this game.