Eagles need to revive offense against Bulls
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Oct. 24, 2003
HATTIESBURG Along with trying to stay undefeated in Conference USA play, the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (3-3, 3-0 C-USA) will be looking to avenge one of their closest defeats from last season.
USM is set to take on the South Florida Bulls (4-2, 2-1 C-USA) at 2 p.m. Saturday in M.M. Roberts Stadium.
The Bulls edged out the Eagles last season 16-13 at James Raymond Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla. USM also lost a three-point game to Louisville 20-17 at home last year.
More than trying to improve to 4-0 in the conference, the Eagles will be searching for a way to revive an anemic offense that managed to gain only 230 yards of offense in the last two games. USM defeated Cincinnati on Oct. 4 and lost to Alabama on Oct. 11 during that span.
How USM will revive its struggling offense is unclear. Eagles running back Tim Blackwell was suspended from the team on Sunday, and will not play against the Bulls.
Blackwell, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior, is the team's leading rusher averaging 54.8 yards per game.
Head coach Jeff Bower announced Wednesday that James Walley, who is averaging 29.2 yards per game, and Sherron Moore, who has run for 54 yards in three games, will split running back duties against South Florida.
The quarterback situation gets even murkier than the running back dilemma for USM.
Opening-day starter Micky D'Angelo was cleared to return to action during the Eagles' off week following the loss to Alabama.
Bower said D'Angelo will probably not play against the Bulls, but the coach has not named either sophomore Dustin Almond or freshman Damion Carter as the starting quarterback for Saturday's game.
Almond drew one start in D'Angelo's absence. The sophomore began the game against Nebraska behind center completing 4-of-24 passes for 68 yards, with two interceptions before leaving in the fourth quarter.
Carter has started the last two games for USM. He completed 8-of-14 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown with an interception before giving way to Almond in starts against Cincinnati and Alabama.
The Eagles offense will need to have every thing straightened out when it lines up against a solid South Florida defense.
The Bulls are allowing an average of 284.7 yards a game, including 117.8 yards rushing, and are averaging just under three sacks per game.
The Bulls have a balanced offensive attack. Running back Clenton Crossley is averaging 6.7 yards per carry, and he has tallied 346 yards and four scores.
South Florida quarterback Ronnie Banks, who is expected to play after missing last week's game against Charleston Southern, has completed 53.2 percent of his passes for 1,029 yards and six touchdowns.