Southern Miss football optimistic about playing Saturday

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The Southern Miss football program is on track to take the field Saturday for the first time in three weeks.

Interim Head Coach Scotty Walden is optimistic about his team’s chances of playing at Liberty after postponing last week’s game at UTEP due to a surge in positive for COVID-19.

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Walden says the Golden Eagles would have been down more than 20 players, leaving them with less than 50 on scholarship.

USM was also the victim of Florida-Atlantic having to postpone the week before due to 18 players testing positive.

Walden says the Black and Gold didn’t have that many in their program, but it was still enough to pull the plug. “When one person gets it, it can spread like wildfire in terms of knocking players out. It’s not necessarily that so and so has infected these people. Well, he’s been around these people. He might be a roommate. It might be something like that, so that’s where your numbers really begin to get hurt. We probably would’ve played the game – if we would’ve played the game Saturday – we would’ve played the game with about 44-45 scholarship players on the field. I can tell you from a mindset standpoint every single one of them wanted to play and every person and administrator in this building, we did everything we could to play. But at some point, guys, we’ve got to be smart and understand the safety of our kids and our coaches is paramount.”

USM is slated to kick things off at Liberty at noon Saturday on ESPN3.

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A native of Pass Christian and a St. Stanislaus alum, Jeff Haeger comes to News 25 from right in our backyard. He most recently spent more than three years working as the sports reporter for WHLT-TV in Hattiesburg, where he provided extensive coverage of his alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, Jeff was a member of the Honors College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. He also wrote for USM's award-winning school newspaper, The Student Printz, where he won first place for Best Sports Story in 2013. Jeff loves to travel, and is excited to get back on the water to reunite with his family. In his spare time you can find Jeff spending time with his friends, and maybe even winning a fantasy football league. For sports stories contact Jeff at jhaeger@wxxv25.com.