HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WLOX) - The Golden Eagles have come up short in their first two contests of the year, but game three should provide some extra motivation in the “Battle for the Bell” against Tulane.
USM have a 23-8 advantage in the all-time series, but the Green Wave won the last meeting earlier this year in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl 30-13.
Heading in, interim head coach Scotty Walden says the team is overall healthy. Biloxi wide receiver Tim Jones has a lower body injury and junior running back Don Ragsdale has an upper body injury. Walden believes it’s something they can play through but will continue to monitor throughout the week.
The Eagles are up against a familiar face. Former USM quarterback Keon Howard is now the starter at Tulane and plans to bring his A-game.
“Phenomenal leader, a phenomenal kid. Great Christian kid right here from Laurel and certainly when he won the job we were all happy for him here because that’s awesome,” Walden said in his press conference Monday when asked about Howard.
“I know he struggled last week against Navy, but we know he’s going to have his stuff ready for this one and he’s going to be ready to play. He’s got an incredibly strong arm, he’s got good feet that can beat you. So we’re going to have to do a great job of corralling him. We know what kind of leader he is as well.”
Howard, a Laurel native, played two seasons at Southern Miss and accumulated 1,564 passing yards, nine passing touchdowns, 331 rushing yards, and two rushing scores in that time. Howard started seven games at quarterback in 2017, throwing for 1,199 yards and eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He completed 56.5 percent of his passes and ran for 181 yards.
The “Battle for the Bell” rivalry continues Saturday, September 25th at 1:30 p.m. in Hattiesburg.