Southern Miss head coach Ellis Johnson all but confirmed on Tuesday that redshirt freshman quarterback Ricky Lloyd will be making his first career start when the Golden Eagles face Louisville on Saturday.
Lloyd is one of three USM quarterbacks who have seen the field so far this season, but just a week ago he found himself third on the team's depth chart. That changed last Saturday when both junior Chris Campbell (neck) and freshman Anthony Alford (knee) exited Southern Miss' eventual loss to Western Kentucky because of injuries. Lloyd then entered the game and promptly led the Golden Eagles on their only two scoring drives of the afternoon.
At his weekly press conference on Monday, Johnson voiced his confidence in Lloyd's ability to lead his team going forward.
"We have complete confidence in Ricky Lloyd," Johnson said. "That decision (to start Campbell against WKU) was not made because Ricky wasn't good enough. It was made because we thought the right guy at the right time was not him. But, I think he can lead our football team and if we improve in so many areas that we have to improve in, we'll be fine."
Offensive tackle Jason Weaver said he and his teammates share Johnson's confidence.
"From the first day I saw him at practice and met him, I knew he was a good quarterback," Weaver said. "I have a lot of confidence in Ricky. He's a better passer, got a nice arm, and he can do a lot of stuff outside the pocket, as far as running."
Llyod played nine snaps in USM's season-opening loss to Nebraska. In that game he missed on all three of his passing attempts and carried the ball four times for five yards. He was far more effective against Western, completing 4-of-5 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 16 yards on six attempts.
Even though you love going up against a quarterback with zero experience as a starter, I'd still definitely rather be heading into the weekend knowing USM was going to keep playing multiple QB's. Now they have one guy who will be getting consistent reps in practice, and who will be able to play loose on Saturday without the fear of being yanked out of the game if he makes one mistake.
Lloyd's start means that there is no doubt that the Cardinal defense will once again see a heavy dose of the spread/no huddle offense for yet another week. He also might have the best head of hair in college football.