Davis returns, Blackwell will sit again
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Nov. 4, 2003
HATTIESBURG University of Southern Mississippi head football coach Jeff Bower shed some light on the playing status of two players absent from last Saturday's game during his Monday press conference.
The Eagles (5-3, 4-0 Conference USA) were without the services of linebacker Rod Davis and running back Timothy Blackwell.
Davis, a finalist for the Butkus Award given to the top college linebacker, was held out of USM's 48-3 win over the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns because of a shoulder stinger.
Blackwell's return to the team is not a certainty like Davis'.
The junior running back, who rushed for 274 yards in five games, was suspended for the second time in as many weeks by Bower the Friday before the game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Bower announced Monday that Blackwell, who was kicked off the team in 2001 and sat out the 2002 season, will not play in the game at Houston.
Blackwell was the team's leading rusher when he was suspend the week before USM defeated South Florida on Oct. 25, but the Eagles running game has improved in his absence.
With running back James Walley sidelined by an ankle injury, sophomore Anthony Harris was moved from fullback to running in the last two games.
Harris produced USM's first 100-yard rushing performance of the season (102 yards) against South Florida, and he topped himself against Louisiana-Lafayette running for 130.
The recent surge in the running game has bolstered a lack-luster Eagles' offense in the last two games. USM tallied 337 yards on offense against South Florida, and the team hit a season-high 555 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette.
The player who may have benefited the most from the emergence of USMs running game has been quarterback Dustin Almond.
The sophomore has started the last two games for the Eagles, and he has thrown for 362 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in that span.
USM will close out the season with four conference games, as the team tries to run the table in the C-USA.
The Eagles first game entering the season's final stretch takes them to a place were they haven't had much success.
USM is set to kick off against Houston at 4 p.m. Saturday.