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Bower says lack of turnovers key to successful 2002 season

By Staff
GENERATION TO GENERATION Southern Mississippi's Jeff Bower autographs Conner Bancroft's visor as Scott Bancroft looks on. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
May 14, 2002
For Southern Mississippi to compete for the Conference USA football title this fall, the Golden Eagles must do a better job of protecting the ball.
USM head coach Jeff Bower says turnovers cost his team at least three games last season. If those losses had been turned into wins, the Golden Eagles would've been in Memphis at the Liberty Bowl. Instead, they were left bowl-less after finishing 6-5.
Bower was on hand to headline the East Central District's Jeff Bower Eagle Club Alumni Golf Tournament at Northwood Country Club on Monday. The coach feels his 2002 team will be better on all fronts, especially at protecting the football.
Bower, though, adds that at 6-5, the season was a relative success.
Even after a full spring which concluded with the Blacks beating the Golds 14-7 back in mid-April, the
quarterback situation to replace graduating Jeff Kelly is still undecided.
The Golden Eagles will be better at wide receiver since Chris Johnson, Marvin Young and Rocky Harrison all saw time and had good carry over during the spring.
The offensive line will be solid behind area products Torin Tucker at guard and Jim Hicks at center. Tucker played at Southeast Lauderdale and Hicks at Philadelphia.
The defense also appears to be in good shape.
Another area where Bower is looking forward to is having six home games at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
The season opens against Jackson State. The second date will bring in defending Big-10 Champion Illinois to Hattiesburg. The Illini will be the first of two high-profile opponents to play USM at Roberts Stadium. Nebraska, the national runner-up last year, visits in 2003.