Notes, quotes, opinions and a statistic or three…

It’s long been my opinion that sports writers, as sportscasters, often get too bogged down in statistics. We tend to become too wrapped up in the numbers of the games and forget the passion and emotions that make our games so special.

That said, sometimes the numbers are the story.

To wit:

• Saturday night in Hattiesburg, Southern Miss wide receiver Allenzae Staggers caught six passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns of 75, 81 and 93 yards. You read right: three touchdowns totaling 249 yards, or 83 yards per. For the night, he averaged nearly 50 yards per catch.

Southern Miss has played football for 104 years. Staggers, in his fifth game at USM, had the best receiving game in that century and four.

Rick Cleveland
Rick Cleveland Credit: Melanie Thortis

• Senior quarterback Nick Mullens had a record-setting day, throwing for 592 yards. It easily could have been 600-plus, but Golden Eagle coach Jay Hopson pulled the plug in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ 44-28 victory. Some USM fans booed when Hopson chose to take several knees late in the game rather than run up the score. My take: That’s the way every coach ought to do it in similar situations. Civility, even in football, is not a bad thing.

• Yes, Chad Kelly’s passing numbers (30-44-1 for 361 yards) were splendid in the Ole Miss Rebels’ 48-28 victory over Memphis Saturday. Yes, he has a group of young receivers who look like five-year NFL veterans. But the most eye-popping stat of the Rebels’ victory? Ole Miss had not one, but two guys run for 100 yards or more against the Tigers. Eugene Brazley ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Akeem Judd ran for 108 on 15 totes. If Ole Miss can effectively run the football, to go with Kelly’s arm and all those receivers, the Rebels could win out.

• Since being called up to the San Diego Padres 10 games ago, Hunter Renfroe is hitting .387, with 4 homers, 2 doubles, 13 RBI, 8 runs scored. Over a 162-game season, that projects to 64 home runs and 208 RBI. This is not to suggest Renfroe – or anyone – can sustain that pace over a long, long season. It is to suggest the Padres should have called him up much, much sooner than they did.

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.