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Eagles return to home field

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Sept. 9, 2003
HATTIESBURG The Golden Eagles are finally coming home to roost.
After logging a total of 4,930 miles in its first two games of the 2003 season, the University of Southern Mississippi will host its first game at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Along with playing in familiar surroundings, the Eagles contest against the Tigers pits their offensive coordinator against a familiar program.
Rip Scherer, who was hired in the Spring after being a co-offensive coordinator at Kansas in 2001, will be calling plays against the team he guided as the head coach from 1994-2000.
Bower down played Scherer taking on his former team during his Monday press conference.
What the Eagles head coach didn't down play is the potency of the Tigers offense.
Memphis, which upset Ole Miss last Saturday 44-34, has racked up 1,073 yards of total offense in its first two games, and the team is averaging 42 points per game.
USM's defense will have to pay closer attention to its tackling technique going up against Memphis' high-powered offense.
The Eagles missed 11 tackles in the opening half of their win over the University of Alabama at Birmingham last Thursday at Legion Field, but Bower said the team did get better as the game went on against the Blazers.
USM will again be without the services of defensive end Terrell Paul.
The all-Conference USA selection sprained his left knee in the Golden Eagles' opener against California.
He sat out last week's game at UAB, and Bower said Paul won't play the home-opener against Memphis. Bower said he hopes Paul will be ready to go when Southern Miss hosts Nebraska on Sept. 25.
Offensive lineman Travis Cooley is also questionable to play against the Tigers.
One thing that is not in doubt is the team's new found stability at running back.
Tim Blackwell, who sat out the 2002 season, rushed for 88 yards on 20 carries against the Blazers, and he is expected to see plenty of time along with James Walley in the backfield.
USM is slated to kick off against Memphis at 6 p.m. Saturday.