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Monday, October 30, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 66, Issue 50 

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Cougar 'D' almost wins game single-handedly

By Tom Carpenter
Daily Cougar Staff

Southern Miss players and coaches were shaking their heads when they trooped off the field into the locker room, trailing 3-0 at halftime Saturday. There wasn't a smile on any of the faces of the No. 14 Golden Eagles.

Except for a lone drive in the fourth quarter given new life by some questionable officiating, Southern Miss failed to put together a single sustained drive the entire game.

"I thought (the defense was) outstanding," head coach Dana Dimel said. "We were leaning on (it) to try and win the football game for us today. I thought (it) put us in position to do that."

Co-defensive coordinators Dick Bumpas and Mark Stoops came up with a suffocating game plan that their players executed flawlessly.

All-American candidate linebacker Wayne Rogers was quick to praise Bumpas.

"Coach Bumpas did an exceptional job of calling the right defenses and getting us in the right positions," Rogers said. "Everybody talks about 'You made tackles for losses here and you knew what was coming,' but coach Bumpas did a great job of putting me in those types of situations."

The defense was full of question marks when the season began. Coming from Navy, Bumpas brought a reputation for building powerful defenses.

Last season, his first as a Cougar coach, Bumpas forged a unit that was ranked No. 25 in the nation in total defense when the season was over.

"It doesn't matter how many tackles or how many tackles for losses or sacks you make. The only thing that counts is a 'W,'" Rogers said. "We didn't get that today, but at the same time I think we earned some respect."

It was a game of two defenses that refused to yield, as the 6-3 score indicates. The time of possession was almost even.

"Their defense did a great job, too," Rogers said. "I thought when we had the wind to our backs in the fourth quarter we had an edge, but I guess not."

Senior quarterback Jason McKinley had nothing but good things to say about his defensive teammates.

"We didn't punch it in the end zone like we needed to, but the defense played great just like they have all year," he said.

The Cougars were matched against a top 10 defense for the second consecutive week and came away with a draw.

"If we keep playing like that defensively, we're going to win some ball games down the stretch," Dimel said. "If our defense steps up and plays like it did today, some good things are going to continue to happen for us."
 

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