Conference USA football: Southern Miss makes quarterback change
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's a new rider on Southern Mississippi's quarterback carousel.
The winless Golden Eagles (0-7, 0-3 Conference USA) will start their fourth different quarterback this season when they visit Rice on Saturday. Sophomore Arsenio Favor, who finished the Eagles' 59-24 loss to Marshall last Saturday, gets the nod.
The other three starters have been hobbled by injury. Senior Chris Campbell was cleared for practice this week after dealing with neck and shoulder issues. Redshirt freshman Ricky Lloyd, who played part of the Marshall game, injured his knee against the Thundering Herd. Freshman Anthony Alford, who started the Marshall game, is dealing with turf toe.
He's also dealing with the aftermath of a subpar performance (9-for-21 passing for 65 yards) that caused his mother Lawanda Alford to be arrested on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. Lawanda Alford was escorted from Roberts Stadium and arrested after getting into a verbal altercation with another fan.
Favor has only been back to practice for two weeks after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the spring, but Southern Miss Coach Ellis Johnson told him to be ready for the unexpected, which happened against Marshall.
"It's been a crazy year, and obviously it's affected our football team," Johnson said. "We've got a lot of confidence in him and he hasn't had enough repetitions in the scheme to know how comfortable he's going to be, but he's going to have to get the first team reps this week and be ready to go."
Favor completed four of five passes for 13 yards and rushed four times for 25 yards and a touchdown in mop-up duty against Marshall.
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SOUTHERN METHODIST, which hosts Memphis (1-6, 1-2) on Saturday, hopes to build on the momentum it seized in a stunning 72-42 win over Houston last Thursday. The Mustangs (3-4, 2-1) forced nine turnovers and scored on four of them.
SMU Coach June Jones said the takeaways came simply because the Mustangs got physical.
"We outhit them, I thought," Jones said. "When you hit and hustle, good things happen, and that's what we've been stressing forever on taking the football away. You've got to get 11 guys to the ball and knock the ball out. They have certainly come in spurts, and you would like to be in the plus column every game. When you are, you usually win."
The nine turnovers tied for the second-highest single-game total in team history. The team record is 10, set Sept. 8 in the Mustangs' 52-0 win over Stephen F. Austin. SMU's 72 points is a school record, breaking the previous mark set in a 70-0 win over Daniel Baker on Sept. 25, 1920.
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EAST CAROLINA'S Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be a little worse for wear when the Pirates (5-3, 4-1) host Navy on Saturday. The stadium is under repair after three people stole utility vehicles Sunday morning and vandalized the field, concession stands and water fountains. William Banks, 18, who was an ECU freshman, was arrested in connection with the act.
The act troubled ECU Coach Ruffin McNeill, who was a defensive back and two-time team captain for the Pirates from 1976-80.
"Why would anyone destroy our house?" McNeil asked. "Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is very precious to me having played and bled on the field. It is really disappointing that someone or some group of people would disrespect us and this university in that manner. It is unacceptable and disappointing that someone would do that to our field."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.