USM Eagles nesting in Memphis for week

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2005

The University of Southern Mississippi’s battle cry, “Anyone.Anytime. Anywhere,” has taken on a new ring this week. The SouthernMiss football team has made its nest in Memphis this week,preparing for Saturday night’s game at Tuscaloosa, against theAlabama Crimson Tide.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the USM Golden Eagleshave become true road warriors. After their long-awaited Sept. 4opener against Tulane was blown away, Coach Jeff Bower elected toload the team buses and flee to Memphis.

Hattiesburg was turned upside down by the hurricane and thecampus was evacuated. There was no power available, no water, noelectricity. Thanks to Memphis University, the Eagles were given aplace to practice and prepare for the Alabama game.

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Two players from this area, redshirt freshman defensive tacklePhilip Tobias of Brookhaven and junior linebacker Wayne Hardy ofMonticello are enjoying the change of habitat.

“It’s better than Hattiesburg right now,” said Tobias. “We arestaying at the Hilton Hotel.”

The players lift weights and practice each morning. “The food isgood,” said Tobias. “We’ve been eating at Memphis University.”

Looking back at Katrina’s destructive path, Tobias said, “Itcould have been worse. Everybody’s families are OK.”

Tobias is on the scout team as a defensive lineman. He won’tmake the trip to Tuscaloosa. He’s playing behind two establishedplayers in Aaron Ford and Martavius Prince.

Tobias said he has been in touch with former Ole Brook teammateJimmy Johns who is a freshman at Alabama. The all-state quarterbackhas moved to running back. Johns got 5 carries for 35 yards in theTide’s opening victory over Middle Tennessee State.

“I called Jimmy and joked around with him,” said Tobias. “Jimmysaid he was liking Alabama.”

True freshman J.P. Lewis of Monticello is on the scout team withTobias. He plays a stinger position, or outside linebacker.

Tobias spent his redshirt freshman year being groomed and bulkedup to play in the offensive line. Apparently, the experiment didn’twork. He was delighted to get back on defense during springpractice.

Hardy is anxious to get the season under way. He has receivedrave reviews during the spring and preseason practice. He playedtwo years at fullback and performed well.

Hardy said the main priority is stopping Alabama’s rushingattack. “We must stop the run first. As long as everybody doestheir assignment, we’ll be all right. Alabama looks good. They willbe a good challenge for us.”

Hardy said he was looking forward to playing against Johns, andrenewing the Brookhaven-Lawrence County rivalry. “We talked toJimmy. It will be good to play against somebody that’s yourrival.”

After Saturday’s game, the Eagles will return to Hattiesburg andmore friendly territory for the rest of the season.

Speaking of friendly territory, Professor Hoopla B.S. said hewas looking forward to sleeping in his own bed, as soon aselectrical power was restored at his residence. He misses the kingsize mattress.

Hoopla’s bloodshot eyes were an indication he had spentcountless hours preparing his list of this weekend’s winners. Hepredicted the victors of 15 games last week and posted an 11-4-0record. Now for this weekend’s winners.

Brookhaven Academy at Amite School Center: TheCougars continue their offensive showcase in picturesque Liberty.Brookhaven Academy 45-8.

Central Hinds at Copiah Academy: In a District3-AA showdown, the Colonels eke out a victory. Copiah Academy27-19.

Franklin County at Terry: All-state runningback Anthony Dixon encounters a tough defense but manages twotouchdowns. Terry 14-7.

In other games, Hazlehurst should clipWilkinson County 18-12 and South Pike should outscore NoxubeeCounty 31-21.

Belhaven at Gardner-Webb: In a Thursday nightspecial, the Blazers are ambushed on the road. Gardner-Webb22-7.

Southern Miss at Alabama: Tuscaloosa brings outthe best in the Crimson Tide Saturday night. Alabama 28-14.

Mississippi State at Auburn: Croom’s crewencounters an angry bunch of Tigers. Auburn 35-10.

In other state games, Alcorn State should beatSoutheastern Louisiana 27-19, Southern U. should sink Valley State28-21, Tennessee State should rip Jackson State 38-14, and DeltaState should clip West Alabama 20-10.

In the SEC, Arkansas over Vanderbilt 30-14,Florida over Louisiana Tech 42-7, South Carolina over Georgia17-14, Kentucky over Idaho State 28-6, and LSU over Arizona State30-21. Ole Miss and Tennessee have open dates to savor theirseason-opening victories.