September 17, 2010 8:43:00 AM
JACKSON -- Southern Miss receiver DeAndre Brown got the message.
Tired of Brown''s prima donna ways, Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora used the uncharacteristic tactic of publicly blasting Brown during a press conference last week, citing a lack of consistent effort.
Brown says he didn''t read any newspapers or websites in the aftermath, but word travels fast in Hattiesburg. With his ears still ringing, the 6-foot-6, 239-pound junior said he''s out to prove his critics wrong when Southern Miss (1-1) hosts Kansas (1-1) on Friday at Roberts Stadium.
"It stung and it leaves me with a chip on my shoulder," Brown said. "It kind of angered me, but now I''m just taking it upon myself to change some things and become that complete receiver."
It''s the Golden Eagles'' second chance to knock off a team from a BCS conference this season. South Carolina beat Southern Miss 41-13 on Sept. 2.
USM has a nine-game home winning streak dating back to 2008.
Kansas is trying to build off its stunning 28-25 upset victory over then-No. 15 Georgia Tech last weekend. That win snapped an eight-game losing streak dating back to last season.
Jayhawks coach Turner Gill said his defense will certainly have its eyes on Brown, who is considered one of the nation''s best receivers despite playing in the relative obscurity of Conference USA. Through two games, Brown has caught nine passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
"He''s somebody we have to limit," Gill said. "We''re not going to shut him down, but we do have to limit his big plays."
Fedora''s criticism of Brown came a few days after USM''s loss to South Carolina. During the game, Brown was openly feuding with coaches and pouting on the sidelines. He finished with four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, but all of that production came in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of hand.
Brown said the Golden Eagles'' offense was out of sync the entire game.
"I don''t want to say we didn''t give our best effort, because everyone was trying," Brown said. "But we just didn''t bring out the "A" game that day. The last few weeks we''ve been grinding and trying to get better. We want to prove that game was just a fluke."
Fedora said Brown was much improved during Saturday''s easy 34-7 victory over Prairie View, even if the performance came against an obviously inferior opponent that didn''t have the size or speed to defend him. The biggest improvement was consistency and effort.
"He played harder, made plays, was blocking and getting after people," Fedora said. "He played the game the way he can play the game."
Though a better Brown would certainly improve the Golden Eagles'' chances of winning, the defense has to do its part after looking shaky against South Carolina.
Kansas had a terrible game on offense in its season opener, scoring just three points in a loss to North Dakota State. But Gill made several changes before the Georgia Tech upset, inserting a new quarterback and starting running back, and the Jayhawks received much better results.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Webb completed 18 of 29 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns against Georgia Tech. True freshman James Sims rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown. But both will be making their first college start away from home.