Eagle Club gets ready for upcoming football season

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
July 30, 2004
University of Southern Mississippi assistant head coach/defensive line coach Randy Butler was a busy man on Thursday.
He was at Crescent City Grill to talk at the East Central Eagle Club/Alumni District kick off meeting in one of his three stops across the state.
Butler was filling in for USM head football coach Jeff Bower, who could not attend the Eagle Club gathering because his father, Tom Bower II, died on Thursday.
The defensive line coach talked to the Eagle Club about a USM defense that is less experienced than in years past.
All-Americans Rod Davis and Etric Pruitt graduated last season, and there have been plenty of changes on the defensive side of the ball.
USM does return a large piece of its defense in linebacker Michael Boley, who was second on the team last year in tackles with 150.
Defensive back Trevis Coley will be expected to lead a young secondary. Coley made three interceptions and 80 tackles last year. On the defensive line, Butler said Eric Scott, Chad Ruffin and Terrance Ford will be expected to anchor the defensive line.
Butler also downplayed the Conference USA coach's poll prediction that USM would finish third in the league. Louisville was chosen to win the league, and Memphis was selected to end in second.
USM will rely on its offense more than it has in recent years to repeat as conference champions in 2004.
A program mostly noted for its defense the Eagles are No. 1 in touchdowns allowed since 1999 has a strong core of offensive players returning.
Quarterback Dustin Almond, who started 13 games last season, headlines the offense. As a sophomore, he threw for 1,877 yards and 13 touchdowns.
USM will also have the services of running back Anthony Harris this year. As a sophomore, Harris ran for 671 yards and seven touchdowns, after taking over the back duties midway through the season.
The Eagles return their top three receivers from last year Marvin Young, DaRon Lawrence adn Antwon Courington. The trio combined for 1,771 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.
USM opens the season on Sept. 11 at Nebraska, in an 11 a.m. nationally televised ABC game.

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