Weary Eagles looking forward to return home|[9/7/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2005

The Southern Miss football team is getting a little antsy.

The Golden Eagles have spent nearly a week running operations out of a Memphis hotel, missed their season-opener against Tulane because of Hurricane Katrina and now face the daunting task of battling Alabama.

“I think we are tired of not being home,” said Bower, whose team left Thursday for Memphis, where it has been using the University of Memphis to prepare for the upcoming schedule.

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“I think everyone is really anxious to get back to Hattiesburg, and we’ll do that after the Alabama game.”

Bower said he fully expects the Golden Eagles to host McNeese State on Sept. 17.

“I think it’s something the people in South Mississippi need. They need to see some football,” Bower said.

Southern Miss has 35 players from the area affected by Katrina.

“They were just happy to get back onto the field,” Bower said of his team’s first practice. “It was like a bunch of kindergartners out there.”

The Eagles scrimmaged on Tuesday, their first in 10 days. In all, USM missed five practices because of Katrina.

The Crimson Tide (1-0) defeated Middle Tennessee State on Saturday, holding MTSU to zero points in the second half.

The Tide only led 9-7 at halftime, before scoring 17 unanswered points in the second half.

“I was a little nervous at halftime just because I couldn’t tell where we were as a team, if we were a little bit down or flat,” Alabama coach Mike Shula said. “What I realized is we’ve got some veteran guys who weren’t necessarily going to panic even though we didn’t play as well as we thought we could in the first half. They just went out there and did their job better.”

Senior quarterback Brodie Croyle threw for 210 yards and a touchdown. Running back Kenneth Darby ran for 95 yards and Tim Castille scored on a pair of 1-yard runs.

A season ago, Alabama’s running game decimated a stout Eagles’ defense for 262 yards on 51 carries. Croyle was injured for that game and the Tide threw nine passes all game.

Bower said he has not seen film from the Tide’s win over MTSU, but knows they will be a dangerous team.

“They have a great defense and Croyle and Darby are really good players,” Bower said. “They are a very talented football team.”

Alabama just missed earning a spot in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Tide received 153 votes – 11 behind No. 25 Clemson.

The Associated Press contributed to his report