Associated Press - October 8, 2010 2:54 PM ET
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - In its most important game of the season to date, Southern Miss will be without leading rusher Desmond Johnson.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound sophomore was suspended on Thursday for a "violation of team rules," leaving the Golden Eagles short-handed going into Saturday's Conference USA showdown against East Carolina. He's rushed for 296 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Though Johnson's absence isn't good news, Southern Miss (4-1, 1-0 C-USA) has plenty of capable backs to make up the lost yardage, including V.J. Floyd, Kendrick Hardy and Tracy Lampley.
East Carolina (2-2, 2-0) has won back-to-back Conference USA championships. The Pirates are averaging 36 points per game, but also are giving up nearly 42 points each week.