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News Nuggets, 11.03.04
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Tonight's primetime TV preview: South Florida at UAB


11.02.04: Army game once again the charm for ECU honors ... No. 25 Miners digging out of rut under Price ... Tar Heels savor first victory over Top 5 opponent ... More...
11.01.04: Games of interest: Hurricanes stall in Chapel Hill ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
10.31.04: Games of interest: Hurricanes stall in Chapel Hill ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
10.30.04: ECU shot-blocking wizard sidelined by thumb injury ... Utes tune out Meyer speculation, BCS chatter ... More...
10.29.04: Football grad rates keep Division I average from sinking ... Despite miscues, Hokies handle Georgia Tech ... More...
10.28.04: CBS, Fox poised to challenge ABC for BCS rights ... Injury sidelines prolific Blue Devils newcomer ... More...
10.27.04: Coaches predict Cards to dominate, Pirates to improve ... Seahawks undergo management shuffle ... More...
10.26.04: Mountain West outsider banging hard on BCS door ... Southern Miss dominates league's weekly awards ... More...
10.25.04: C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... Associated Press college football poll ... More...
10.24.04: Bearcats stagger heavily-favored Memphis ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
10.23.04: Blue Raiders go hip-hop to fill empty seats ... No. 15 Louisville makes mince meat of Bulls ... More...
10.22.04: Black coaches issue report cards to Division I schools ... Mountaineers QB rumbles over Syracuse ... More...
10.21.04: Holland successor to head NCAA selection committee ... New BCS model already begging to be recalled ... More...
10.20.04: Cards shake off loss to Miami, target USF for payback ... McCants clarifies Chapel Hill 'jail' remarks ... More...
10.19.04: Utah earns lofty spot in BCS poll; Louisville, UAB on list ... Bad back hounds Marquette basketball coach ... ACC rolls out new seal, future division names ... More...
10.18.04: New look BCS to debut: Let the bickering begin ... C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... AP college football poll ... More...
10.17.04: Army streaking; C- USA, Carolinas scoreboard ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...

On just one play in UAB's first game of the season, receiver Roddy White and quarterback Darrell Hackney showed why they are among the nation's most prolific passing duos.

White was running his route when he noticed Hackney scrambling away from pressure. The roommates knew what to do.

``I just took off to the end zone,'' White said. ``He tucked it in and threw it, and I knew we were on the same page then. I didn't know what he was going to do and he didn't know what I was going to do, and we still hooked up together.''

They haven't stopped since, putting the Blazers (5-2, 3-1 Conference USA) into contention for their first bowl bid entering their Wednesday night home game (7:30 p.m., ESPN2) with South Florida (2-4, 1-3).

Hackney, the nation's fifth-rated passer, is finally healthy and is leading the league in yards passing after missing the final five games last year with a dislocated thumb.

Hackney and White began rooming together over the summer, and they frequently stayed after workouts for extra passing work along with other receivers.

Hackney has completed 56.7 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns, both career highs, and has thrown just four interceptions.

``He's feeling his dream right now,'' said White, the nation's leading receiver with 886 yards and nine touchdowns. ``Nobody knew how good he could be because he was hurt. Now, everybody's seeing what he could do. He just wanted to prove that he's one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.''

Hackney passed for a career-high 448 yards in a 59-55 loss to Tulane two weeks ago, finding White for 253 of them. Both were league highs for the season, providing some substance to White's opinion about where they rank as a passing duo.

``I think we're (No.) 1 on the nation. Nobody's doing what we're doing,'' said White, who is averaging 21.6 yards on 41 catches. ``If we're not 1, we're one of the best at hooking up together. We're on the same page all the time. We're inside each other's head.''

Hackney is proving as polished off the field as well. He credits his coaches and teammates for his success and even shoulders much of the blame for the 23 sacks UAB has allowed.

``The two biggest assets to my play this year are my preparation with coach (Pat) Sullivan and the people around me,'' said Hackney, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound junior. ``They're making me look good and I have to give credit to them.''

And the sacks?

``Half the sacks you can blame on me because I always run right to them and always hold the ball too long,'' Hackney said.

He had shown signs that he was capable of this kind of season, starting eight games and passing for 1,977 yards and 14 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman.

Hackney was well on his way to even better things last year — and had UAB on the brink of an upset at No. 16 Texas Christian — when he went down for the season. The Blazers wound up losing that game, missing a chance for an attention-getting win for a program starved for recognition and starting a 2-4 tailspin to end the year.

Now, the Blazers remain in contention for their first C-USA title and are a win from becoming bowl eligible, with Hackney leading the way.

``I'm staying healthy and just trying to take charge and lead this team to big things and all our goals,'' he said.

White said the Blazers feed off Hackney's confidence, not just his passing.

``I think he's just being a leader out there,'' he said. ``When the play's there to be made, he's making it. And he's got everybody believing that he can do it. He's a real confident guy and he's getting that confidence spread all over the team, and everybody's making plays.''

Almond back in the saddle for No. 21 USM

Southern Mississippi expects quarterback Dustin Almond to return to the starting lineup as it begins its stretch run by hosting Cincinnati in a Conference USA matchup Saturday.

The 21st-ranked Golden Eagles (5-1, 4-0) are coming off a bye, which gave Almond some time to rest his injured hamstring. Almond hasn't played since being injured on a dramatic touchdown run in a 35-29 win over Houston on Oct. 7.

Almond likely could have played in an emergency in a 51-10 win over East Carolina on Oct. 23. He has passed for 663 yards, six touchdowns and has been intercepted twice.

The return of Almond seems to come just in time for Southern Mississippi, which is trying to extend a 13-game conference winning streak as it begins its toughest stretch of the season. The Golden Eagles will be facing four of the conference's top teams — UAB, Cincinnati, Memphis and Texas Christian — before playing No. 4 California on Dec. 4 in a game pushed back three months because of Hurricane Ivan.

``Right now, we've got a long way to go and are getting ready to play our toughest stretch of the season in conference games,'' Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower said. ``I keep saying this game is 3-to-1 mental over physical, and anything can happen. You've got to prepare and get ready to play.''

The Golden Eagles' late-season stretch begins against the Bearcats (4-4, 3-2) and quarterback Gino Guidugli, a four-year starter whom Bower calls one of the top quarterbacks in the conference. Guidugli has passed for 1,717 yards and 16 touchdowns and has been intercepted seven times.

``They're very balanced and that makes him that much better, especially when you've got to line up and worry about the run,'' Bower said.

The Golden Eagles have won two straight over Cincinnati, including a 22-20 thriller last year on Darren McCaleb's 26-yard field goal with 1:10 remaining. That was over a Bearcats team coached by Rick Minter, who has been replaced by Mark D'Antonio.

``They've always had pretty good football teams,'' Bower said. ``It's always been tough playing them, but I think that's because they've been pretty good.''

Richard Hall rushed 29 times for 143 yards and a touchdown, and Guidugli passed for 155 yards to lead Cincinnati to a 21-10 win over TCU on Saturday.

Southern Mississippi leads the all-time series 7-6.

News Nuggets are compiled periodically from staff, ECU, Conference USA and its member schools, and from Associated Press and other reports. Copyright 2004 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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