DB/PR/KR John Eubanks

2004 Statistics

Coach: Jeff Bower
96-67-1, 15 years
2004 Record:7-5
at Nebraska WON 21-17
at Tulane WON 32-14
at South Florida WON 27-20
at Alabama LOST 3-27


WON 51-10
at Memphis LOST 26-30
at TCU LOST 17-42
UAB WON 26-21
vs. North Texas WON 31-10

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

Head coach Jeff Bower has built a consistent winner in Hattiesburg. The Golden Eagles have won four C-USA titles (since joining in 1996) and have appeared in bowl games in seven of the last eight years, going 4-3. Perhaps the only problem with Bower's successful legacy in Hattiesburg is his lack of a "statement" victory over a perennial power. Going into Alabama for 13 straight years (1-12) doesn't change this campaign, and we admire Bower for consistently challenging his boys to do what it takes to attain that "next level". But the results just epitomize how Bower has traditionally done poorly against big-time non-cons (he has never beat a school from a BCS-aligned conference which ended that same year with a winning record), yet has ruled CUSA teams (all-time going 47-14 and 25-5 at home under Bower). With a conference gutted by the defections of Louisville and South Florida to the Big East, the Golden Eagles will have a shot to go to the first-ever conference championship game. The Eagles will be paired in the top-heavy Eastern Division with Marshall and Memphis, a pair of clubs that, too, each have enough talent to play for the crown. Even if the Eagles win all of their other conference contests, the season will ride on the final two games against these two. Trips to Alabama and N.C. State also loom for the Eagles, so the work within the schedule is cut out for a school that usually loses to better teams.

Unlike the rest of their C-USA opposition, Bower's clubs are not set up to go out and simply outscore anyone. The Eagles typically rely on a methodical ball control offense, a stout defense and solid special teams to win the day…and last season, the defense was not able to hold up their end of that bargain. CB/KR/PR John Eubanks earns all-American honors from us at an unprecedented two positions for the upcoming campaign, so realize how high the DB bar is set and how he will help his mates easily reach it. Accordingly, the Eagles will improve last year's uncharacteristically porous defense with another strong secondary that will usher in the LBs and instill confidence throughout the unit.

USM will also will be working with a new (internally promoted, was RB's coach) offensive coordinator Jay Johnson. Even the slightest improvements on offense would be welcome change after last year's brownout, so don't think coaches will have their usual patience with Almond if his progress again stagnates. Junior QB Damion Carter has the complete package and would elevate the team with his confidence and energy, so watch this variable closely to see if USM gets over its offensive roadbump at field general.

Look for Bower's crew to trip up once or twice early, but they will refocus and produce improvements once they see the newbies play at real-game speed. Traditionally and predictably, the Eagles will do as Bower's clubs often do - get stronger as the campaign goes on and save their best for the stretch run. A real sleeper of a program, Southern Mississippi regains its feared edge as the toughest team most of its foes face all season. So if you can hear "the Pride" of Hattiesburg, sing the refrain with us, "Southern Mississippi to the top! To the top..."

Projected 2005 record: 8-3
WR Antwon Courington
QB - 3.5 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 2.5
WR - 2.5 DB - 4
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Dustin Almond, 269-138-6, 1848 yds., 12 TD

Rushing: Anthony Harris, 175 att., 714 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Antwon Courington, 47 rec., 659 yds., 5 TD

Scoring: Darren McCaleb, 16-19 FG, 27-31 PAT, 75 pts.

Punting: Luke Johnson, 67 punts, 41.8 avg.

Kicking: Darren McCaleb, 16-19 FG, 27-31 PAT, 75 pts.

Tackles: Trevis Coley, 104 tot., 66 solo

Sacks: Akeem Lockett, 4 sacks

Interceptions: Trevis Coley, 4 for 39 yds.

Kickoff Returns: John Eubanks, 21 ret., 29.4 avg., 1 TD

Punt Returns: John Eubanks, 21 ret., 7.7 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Sherron Moore-RB, DaRon Lawrence-WR, Marvin Young-WR, Otho Graves-TE, Chris White-OT, Addaryl Edwards-C, Jeremy Parquet-OT
DEFENSE: LeVon Pears-DE, Chad Ruffin-NT, Eric Scott-DT, Michael Boley-SLB, Dillon Cleckler-MLB, Antoine Cash-WLB

Calling signals for the Golden Eagles will likely be Dustin Almond (at first). The senior has become a solid, yet unspectacular leader of the offense. But mainly, he needs to improve upon his completion percentage (49% over entire career), though he has arm-strength. With an improved running game and with the quality of receivers that he has to throw to, Almond's TD total (12) needs to come up. Almond's longest pass of '04 was 47 yards, so either the play-calling and/or Almond's decision-making is suspect. We feel he needs to have his own number called (good mobility), and Dustin needs to find the open man deep so as to eventually open up those underneath routes. Backup Jeremy Young has a great arm, but needs work on his ability to flow in the real game scenarios. N'awlins-native Damion Carter will likely be the top backup, for he is capable of making athletic plays in the pocket (better mobility than either Almond or Young) and has the pedigree (Newman, Peyton and Eli's prep team) to rise at this level if brought along. If Almond goes down or struggles early, look for Carter to step up and perform well enough to hold the starter's spot from then on.

Running Back
The Eagles will bring back top rusher Anthony Harris. While Harris will impress with quality speed, he is more of a solid north-south runner, with good size (222 pounds) and strength, and who's not particularly fumble-prone. Sophomore Larry Thomas brings a good change of pace; smaller and quicker, but surprisingly tough, too, Thomas himself is ready to carry the load. He brings instant, first-step speed (averaged 6.9 yards per with a long of 79 yards while, all season, only losing five yards on 49 carries) that the Southern Miss backfield needs. Though fresh, upcoming potential at TB exists beyond these two, the talents of FBs Bobby Weakley and Wayne Hardy seem to be wasted if they continue to (pretty much) just block. Using a two-back approach with either/both (FBs) would open up other areas of the field as fakes and misdirection plays - crucial to those run-weighted offensive schemes USM employs (58% rushes) - would give Almond time. If/when this unit doesn't flourish and/or reach its potential, it won't be their fault.

Receiver and Tight End
Antwon Courington gives the Eagles perhaps the best pure playmaker in C-USA. He has the size (6-3), speed (prep track champ, 4x100) and great hands that every top-flight pass catcher must possess. But USM coaches, listen up…this all-conference performer has to go out further than 40 yards (his longest) for USM to get the field-stretching prescribed for wins. Speedster Anthony Perine is the Eagles' smart possession guy who runs solid underneath routes. Tavarres Williams may be a budding star. Like Courington and Perine, he is big and possesses breakaway speed (team longs in average - 19+ yards per grab - and single pass from Almond - 47 yards). Converted wideout Pedi Causey will be the quick TE mismatched against LBs and safeties. JUCO-transfer Josh Barnes has the speed and hands to play immediately. But the entire TE unit is weak for inside blocking, somewhat inverse of how they (will) employ WRs - USM predicates itself on having prototypically large WRs who are strong down-field blockers, and this physical corps can hold its own this way.

Offensive Line
Junior guard Travis Cooley is one of the best offensive linemen in C-USA and while not the biggest, he moves as well as anyone. George Batiste is quietly turning into a solid, if not spectacular, blocker. The entire rest of the two-deep will be new, and the turnover here should be good for morale. This unit was one of, if not the main reasons why the offense stunk. They allowed 19 sacks; not bad, but we're sure they would give up a few extra sacks to get 4+ per carry in return, and this new group's mobility is just the new age cure needed. Roll-outs and stunts are going to be the smartest approaches coaches can choose to capitalize on the potential available. It will take time to get a solid unit, but growth won't be overly painful; (at) 'Bama (second game, 9/10/05) will let them know how far they have to go.

Football is a bottom-line business and the bottom line last season was that a talented group, capable of some flow and consistency, was unable to get the job done when needed. How else can you explain an awful 35 percent third down percentage and an offense ranked mid-pack or near the bottom in every offensive category? By not being particularly great at one facet, all facets reflected dismal mediocrity. Jay Johnson, their RB-coach hired from within to be coordinator, won't change much - good for continuity, bad for change's sake. That means execution will be the variable honed, and Johnson's tough, physical approach will bleed into all units even more. A new line means the QB may not get the protection he has recently had, so other creative options will be explored. When Almond again makes bad decisions, one solution will be to roll Carter's dice, for he is their likely '06 starter and has the speed and arm to make QB play at USM once again dangerous and feared (Favre). Knowing how the USM script plays out when Almond is shaky, look for Carter to see action early and often, as soon as Almond begins to falter. If Almond isn't subbed out, the box gets loaded as foes then can again anticipate and stop his short throws and /or USM's basic runs. This new line will fold if the box is loaded regularly, so strong line play will have to come or the entire team again suffers.


RB Anthony Harris


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Dustin Almond-Sr (6-2, 212) Jeremy Young-So (6-3, 204)
FB Anthony Harris-Sr (5-10, 222) Bobby Weakley-Jr (5-10, 230)
RB Larry Thomas-So (6-0, 192) Cody Hull-So (6-0, 197)
WR Anthony Perine-Jr (6-0, 173) Damion Carter-Jr (6-3, 187)
WR Antwon Courington-Sr (6-2, 205) Tavarres Williams-So (6-0, 182)
TE Jonathan Palmer-Jr (6-3, 260) Shawn Nelson-Fr (6-5, 225)
OT Chris Clark-So (6-5, 263) Wesley Housley-Fr (6-2, 283)
OG Travis Cooley-Jr (6-3, 280) Ricardo Clark-Sr (6-1, 300)
C Robby D'Angelo-Jr (6-2, 274) Rick Thompson-So (6-0, 281)
OG George Batiste-Jr (6-5, 306) Bradley Worthington-Sr (6-4, 303)
OT Neal Mead-Sr (6-4, 315) Joseph Leech-Jr (6-4, 283)
K Darren McCaleb-Jr (5-11, 167) Luke Johnson-Sr (6-0, 247) (KO)



Defensive Line
End Matthew Chatelain is solid against the run despite being somewhat slight, and he needs to become a better rush end (one sack last season) or, himself, succumb to the new wave. The other bookend, Akeem Lockett, was perhaps the squad's best pass rusher, though he is also a mid-sized model. Martavious Prince is an athletic NT whose non-stop motor keeps him always moving towards the ball. JUCO-transfer Shander Manning, Mam Nyang and Cedric Jones represent the super-quick youth soon to shine. This group is not chocked with much size or many all-conference performers, but they will get the job done in swarming fashion and cut down on allowing an embarrassing (by USM standards) 4.4 per carry.

Southern Miss is C-USA's "Linebacker U" and for good reason - all of the LBs on the CUSA all-decade team came from here. But replacing the entire starting crew will have impact, regardless of the quality depth available. New man in the middle Kevis Coley will try to emulate (DB) twin-brother Trevis' all-conference season. His similar size and speed mean he can drop back as well as be a solid run stopper, but replacing Boley's (all-decade) output will not be seen at first. Naton Stewart will take over on the weakside and has the ability to play both run and pass equally as well, as was proven when he was 2004's top reserve. JUCO-transfer Jerome Lyons will step in and contribute immediately with his size-speed, and he represents a svelte group of newbies who will be rough, but ready, come fall.

Defensive Back
Second-team NC.net all-American CB John Eubanks plays risky, but well enough that the corner sees few challenges. Other starter Caleb Hendrix can also be left on an island, so the corners are solid as they force most action over the middle. All-conference FS Trevis Coley has linebacker size (6-1, 220), excellent recovery speed and a hard-hitting nature, while rover Darrell Bennett, a converted wideout, is not as speedy or as physical as Coley, but is always around the ball. Nickel guy Jasper Faulk guarantees that the well-groomed underclassmen have enough teachers to make this unit solid throughout the two-deep. He, like Coley, also will see action with the changes to the front seven. This same secondary was the defense's strongpoint in '04, but with three new starters in front of them (all LBs are new), we wonder how thin this group can be spread and still keep its effectiveness. With twin brothers representing the interchange-ability of the back seven, lots of nickel and dime looks will blur the line between the speedy LBs that can drop back and how these DBs are plugged in for run support for optimal affect.

Last season, the Eagles did something that they haven't done often during Bower's reign at Hattiesburg: they became a sieve on defense. Surrendering 24 points per contest is not a recipe for success here. With a fresh infusion of top-flight JUCO talent, this defense should be much improved, but still not to the level that Bower expects. With three decent foes to end, strong initial results cannot lull them into thinking all problems are solved. Front-seven adjustments (all new LB starters) may seem minimal, but with size issues up front, watch carefully for extra LBs to become down-linemen, just as the safeties will be able to fly around the box effectively ("multiple-40") with their size to bolster USM's weakest facet - run stopping. The DBs are strong enough (all starters return) to lend a few hats to this pursuit, but it will only be once the front seven is able to handle its own responsibilities that this defense can again be what it once was. DB's coach and newly promoted coordinator Jay Hopson is a secondary genius (UF, LSU), and his tutelage assures the DBs will be properly utilized so the run-stopping can effectively be bolstered while the big plays are kept to a minimum. The swagger returns as the Eagle D soars to once again win games by itself.


DB Trevis Coley


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Matthew Chatelain-Jr (6-2, 244) Shadler Manning-Jr (6-2, 250)
NT Tom Johnson-Sr (6-3, 280) Ryan Watson-So (6-2, 271)
DT Terrance Ford-Sr (6-1, 300) Martavius Prince-So (6-2, 285)
BAN Akeem Lockett-Sr (6-2, 250) Robert Henderson-So (6-3, 250)
SLB Naton Stewart-Sr (6-3, 239) Gerald McRath-Fr (6-2, 210)
MLB Kevis Coley-Sr (6-1, 223) Chaz Richards-So (5-11, 230)
WLB Trevis Coley-Jr (6-2, 216) Wayne Hardy-Jr (6-0, 223)
CB John Eubanks-Sr (5-11, 177) James Nelson-So (5-10, 168)
CB Caleb Hendrix-Jr (5-10, 177) Lance Moore-Fr (6-0, 187)
ROV Brandon Sumrall-So (5-11, 185) Jasper Faulk-So (5-10, 185)
FS Darrell Bennett-Jr (6-0, 210) LeVance Richmond-Jr (5-11, 190)
P Luke Johnson-Sr (6-0, 247) Britt Barefoot-So (6-0, 174)




Consistent Darren McCaleb will return after hitting all of his regular season tries (16). The rising junior went four-for-five from 40+ and is definitely solid. Kick coverage will step up with the infusion of budding DB and LB talent.

Punter Luke Johnson averaged 41 yards, but more importantly dropped 16 inside the 20 and had 17 fair-caught. Strong net results ensued, and will continue with LB's coach Lytrel Pollard able to gauge who's who as he is their special teams coach, too. Johnson also kicks-off, and about half of those are touchbacks, so his big leg can always step in for McCaleb.

Return Game
Third-team NC.net all-American KR Eubanks' impact is a major field position coup - the Golden Eagles get the ball consistently five to ten extra yards further downfield than foes, and that adds up. Eubanks is decent on punts (5th-rated in I-A) with good vision as an ex-QB, but we expect his speed to break out here eventually for scores.