USM's Bull not really a baby any more

By By Stan Caldwell / EMG Sports Writer
Sept. 8, 2002
HATTIESBURG When Derrick Nix was a freshman at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1998, he was tagged with the nickname, "The Baby Bull."
You can forget that "baby" part; there's nothing childish about Nix. Just ask the University of Illinois defenders who spent a fruitless afternoon trying to stop the senior Eagle tailback.
Nix bulled his way to 201 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries in leading USM to a 23-20 victory over Illinois Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Saturday's effort was the second-highest rushing total of his career, and there is no telling how many yards he might have had if he hadn't spent much of the second quarter in the locker room after getting sick on his first touchdown, a 3-yard run late in the first quarter.
Nix got a transfusion, so to speak, taking an intravenous solution of liquids to rehydrate him, then returned to lead the Golden Eagles in the second half.
Nix is still feeling the lingering effects of the kidney ailment that cost him most of the 2000 season and all of last season. Although he isn't quite 100 percent physically, he certainly looked plenty good to the Golden Eagles.
That's exactly what happened on Nix's second touchdown, a 50-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter that put USM ahead for good. Nix took the ball up the middle, broke to the right side and ran away from the Illinois pursuit.
The score came after he had fumbled on a 4-yard pickup on the previous play. The fumble came well after he was down, but the fact that he tripped himself up left him angry and wanted the ball again.
Mad or not, USM came into Saturday's game determined to run right at the Illini. Although they occasionally got away from that strategy to their detriment, when the Golden Eagles put their minds to running, they were rarely stopped.
The unity between linemen and running back can be a valuable thing, especially with a big back like Nix, and the Golden Eagle linemen understand what it is they have with Nix in the backfield.
And there is no question that USM fans appreciate what they have in Nix, especially after watching the Eagles struggle to gain yards on the ground in his absence. When Nix returned to the field late in the second quarter after getting his IV drip, it was to a standing ovation from the 22,183 in attendance.

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