Sept. 30, 2011
*Written by the 'Voice of the Golden Eagles' John Cox
When the Golden Eagles take on the Rice Owls this Saturday night at The Rock, I hope that you take the opportunity to watch and enjoy the play of senior quarterback Austin Davis, because you are running out of opportunities to watch a young man, who will go down as one of the greatest and most talented quarterbacks that have ever worn the Black and Gold.
I had the chance to sit down with Austin the other day for an interview that we did with him for a future edition of Southern Miss Sports Today with Larry Fedora and talked about how his life has changed over the past five years. When he arrived at Southern Miss he wasn't sure where his future was, on the baseball diamond or on the football field, but as fate would have it Coach Larry Fedora took over as head coach in 2008 and Davis was given an opportunity to became the team's quarterback in Fedora's spread offense and the rest as they say is history.
It is ironic that Davis, who has broken nearly every passing record at Southern Miss never, threw the ball a great deal at West Lauderdale High School, where he was the winningest quarterback in the school's history. But he showed many of the traits that have made him among the elite quarterbacks in the history of Golden Eagle football. In high school he was a player that made few mistakes, was a great leader, made great decisions, and always seemed to make the big play, and the right play, at the right time. The same things he does for the Golden Eagles today.
In his incredible career at Southern Miss he has completed 736 of 1202 passes for 8,387 yards and 60 touchdowns, while throwing only 20 interceptions. He has also rushed 385 times in his career for 1,060 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. His passing efficiency rating (based on the NCAA formula) is 132.99, the highest in school history.
When you look at the five most efficient passers in Golden Eagle history you find that Davis sits atop a group of outstanding and record breaking quarterbacks at Southern Miss. Second behind Davis in passing efficiency is Lee Roberts (1995-1998) at 132.24 and who passed in his career for 6,289-yards and 52 touchdowns. Third is Jeff Kelly (1998-2001) at 130.39 and who passed for 7,095-yards and 51 touchdowns. Fourth on the list is Dustin Almond (2002-2005) at 120.44 who passed for 7,342 yards and 51 touchdowns. Fifth on the list is Brett Favre (1987-1990) at 117.21 who finished his career with 7,695 yards and 52 touchdowns. One thing that Austin has done well in his career is avoiding interceptions. He has thrown just 20 in his career or just one every 60 passes that he has thrown.
He has been as successful in the classroom as he has been on the football field already having graduated with a degree in business administration and currently working on a Masters degree in coaching. He was the 2010-2011 Conference USA scholar-athlete for football and last May was selected for the University's Hall of Fame. Austin even traveled with the University's Baptist Student Union after the Beef O'Brady Bowl to China to share the story of Christmas and during spring break worked with the BSU in the Boston area at various colleges. So don't pass up the opportunity to watch this special young man as he finishes up his career with the Golden Eagles.
Saturday night when the Eagles host Rice at The Rock, it will be just the third meeting in history between the two teams. The first on October 3, 2007, was a classic that saw the Golden Eagles turn the ball over seven times (four interceptions, three fumbles) and nearly rally to send the game into overtime before losing 31-29. If you remember quarterback Jeremy Young had been injured the previous Thursday at Boise State and Stephen Reaves was scheduled to replace him against Rice for the game six days later, but Reaves suffered bruised ribs in practice the Sunday before the game and wasn't scheduled to play against Rice. But on the third play of the game against Rice that night, quarterback Martevious Young broke his leg and Reaves, bruised ribs and all, had to play. The Eagles scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to rally from a 31-7 deficit, scoring with 2:46 left on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Reaves to Shawn Nelson to make it 31-29, but the two-point conversion failed and the Owls won.
The next year, on Oct. 18, 2008, at Rice Stadium, the Owls defeated the Golden Eagles 45-40 in a Conference USA shootout. Austin Davis threw for a record 461 yards on 32-of-61 passing and threw all four of his touchdown passes to DeAndre Brown, who has 221 yards receiving. The two teams that day combined for 1,159 yards of total offense, threw 106 passes with 62 completions and there were 10 touchdown passes in the game. The Golden Eagles had 573 total yards that day and ran 95 plays from scrimmage.
Not sure what to expect on Saturday night when these two teams renew the series, but it should be a great atmosphere at the Rock and don't forget to wear all black for BLACKOUT night.
Hope to see you there on Saturday and don't forget our coverage begins at 5 p.m., with our pre-game show on the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network.
Southern Miss TO THE TOP!