USM has focus on Louisville
By By Stan Caldwell / EMG Sports Writer
Nov. 12, 2002
HATTIESBURG Talk about tunnel vision, University of Southern Mississippi offensive coordinator Chris Klenakis was so absorbed Monday with preparations for Thursday's critical Conference USA game against Louisville, that he forgot what day it was.
The Golden Eagle coaches could be excused if they were more than a little preoccupied, since they have a short week to prepare for the nationally-televised contest at Roberts Stadium against the Cardinals on ESPN.
Everyone connected with the Golden Eagles is feeling a lot better about this week's game after USM came from behind in the second half to defeat UAB 20-13 Saturday at Birmingham, Ala. The win improved USM's record to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in C-USA.
Saturday's win was manufactured by a rock-ribbed defensive effort and a fourth-quarter offensive spark by sophomore quarterback Micky D'Angelo, who came off the bench in the second half to lead the Golden Eagles' comeback.
D'Angelo completed for-of-eight passes in the second half for 113 yards, including two critical passes, one to LeRoy Handy that set up the game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and one to Chris Johnson that set up an insurance field goal with 1:11 to play in the game.
USM also got a much-needed boost from sophomore tailback James Walley, who filled in nicely for star senior Derrick Nix. Walley ran for 100 yards on 27 carries and got the game-winning score on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
The defense also played possibly its best game of the season, holding the Blazers to 13 points and 226 yards of offense. Junior Ronald Jones was a particular thorn in the Blazers' side, recording a pair of sacks and three tackles for loss.
USM will be at a disadvantage against Louisville as far as time to prepare is concerned. While the Eagles have a short week to prepare, the Cardinals will have had a full week between games, having played last Thursday in a 24-14 home loss to Cincinnati.
USM came out of the UAB game without injury. Derrick Nix went through a limited practice Sunday and is questionable for the Louisville game. Nix is recovering from surgery on his right leg that kept him sidelined against the Blazers.
If he's not ready, Bower will be more than happy to turn to Walley, whose effort against UAB earned him Offensive Player of the Week. The entire defensive line was named Defensive Player of the Week, and kick returner Marvin Young was named Special Teams Player of the Week.