Eagles look to continue to fly high in C-USA
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Oct. 23, 2003
HATTIESBURG The University of Southern Mississippi football team has a 3-3 mark. That's okay.
The Golden Eagles are scoring 13.5 points per game, but they are giving up 21.2 points per game. That's not good.
Opponents are running for 193.7 yards per game against USM, while the team is only accumulating 92.7 yards. That's worse.
As unimpressive as some of the Eagles' numbers have been midway through the college football season, there is one number that every member of the team can look at with pride 3-0.
That is USM's record in Conference USA, and the squad's perfect mark is just what the players wanted at this time in the season.
USM's three losses have come against team's in BCS conferences.
California, which stomped the Eagles 34-2 in the opening game of the season, is a member of the Pac-10.
Nebraska, which handed USM a 38-14 loss on Sept. 25 at M.M. Roberts Stadium, is a member of the Big 12, and the Cornhuskers were ranked 15th at the time.
Alabama, picked up a 17-3 win over the Eagles on Oct. 11 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, is a member of the Southeastern Conference.
Returning from their last off week for the season, the Eagles will be putting their unblemished mark on the line against the up-and-coming South Florida Bulls.
In just their seventh year of existence, the Bulls have compiled a 4-2 record this season, and they stand 2-1 in the C-USA.
Players on the Eagles, who lost to South Florida last year 16-13, said they are not surprised by South Florida's success so early in the program's existence.
USM is trying to figure out what talent it can put out on the field at this point in the season, as the team gets ready to host South Florida.
D'Angelo, who was cleared to return to practice last week after suffering a concussion against Memphis, said the coaching staff told him he would most likely not play against the Bulls.
During D'Angelo's absence, sophomore Dustin Almond and freshman Damion Carter have shared the signal calling duties.
USM head coach Jeff Bower has not made an official announcement on who will start for the Eagles on Saturday.
The Eagles' running game also took a personnel hit this week when Bower announced that the team's leading rusher Tim Blackwell (54.8 yards per game) had been suspended from the team and will not play against South Florida.
USM is also trying to fix a defense that has allowed opponents 334.2 yards per game this season.
The Eagles have long been known for having one of the elite defenses in college football, and members of the defensive unit said they have not been living up to their reputation.
While there is still plenty of work for USM to do before the team can think about playing in the Liberty in Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 31, the Eagles are right where they want to be entering the season's home stretch.