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franklin county times

USM gears up for another winning season

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
May 15, 2001
The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles hope to continue their momentum from last year's bowl victory as they look forward to the 2001 season opener at home against Oklahoma State.
The Golden Eagles were ranked as high as 12th in the nation at one point during the 2000 season before dropping three Conference USA games late in the campaign. USM finished 8-4, thanks to a come-from-behind 28-21 win over Texas Christian in the GMAC Mobile Alabama Bowl.
USM fans are enjoying quite a run of success. Last year's winning mark was the fourth year in a row that USM won seven or more games. USM has received four straight bowl invitations.
Bowers added that he was encouraged by what he saw in during spring training.
The Golden Eagles returned 41 lettermen from last year, 21 on offense, 17 on defense and three specialists. USM has nine starters back on offense and four on defense.
Starting quarterback Jeff Kelly broke the thumb on his throwing hand in the annual spring game, but is expected to be throwing again by June.
Running back Derrick Nix, who missed most of last season with first an injury and later an illness, is also expected to returned to duty this season. Bowers pointed out that he will be joined at the running back position by Dawayne Woods, who saw plenty of action after Nix went down.
The Golden Eagles defeated Oklahoma State 28-6 last season in the third game of the year.
The season may open even earlier. Bower said the Golden Eagles were being considered for playing at preseason game against Kansas State. "We are still waiting to hear," Bower said.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.