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Al Pogue named new Troy defensive backs coach

Fresh off a trip to the BCS National Championship Game, Al Pogue decided to bring his talents to Troy.

Pogue, a former quality control assistant for the Auburn Tigers, was named the new defensive backs coach at Troy Thursday morning.

Pogue is a veteran of the Alabama coaching scene, having been the head coach at three different high schools, Calhoun. St. Jude and Carver-Montgomery.

“The decision to come to Troy was easy,” Pogue said. “I’m a football coach, and coaching is my passion. Troy have given me the opportunity to do what I really want to do, and that is to coach kids and be a mentor.”

Before becoming a coach, Pogue spent four years at Alabama State and earned All-American and All-SWAC honors as a free safety.

Pogue also played semi-pro football in Mobile after leaving ASU.

He most recently served as Auburn’s Director of High School Relations, and built a strong relationship with high school coaches and players across the state.

“Guys know me here in the state from my high school ties,” Pogue said. “I have had the opportunity to meet with coaches from a lot of different states, and I am hoping to use that to my advantage.”

Troy ranked 96th nationally in total defense in 2013, and intercepted just six passes, tied for fourth least in the FBS last year.

Pogue said one of the biggest issues with the defensive backs at Troy is confidence.

“I had meeting with one of the guys, and told him that is obvious he is talented, because if he wasn’t, then he wouldn’t be here. I am looking to build on some things, and hopefully we can get better on the back end and have the best pass defense in this conference.”

Pogue will coach corners, per head coach Larry Blakeney. Troy lost safeties coach Benjy Parker earlier in the off-season.

Blakeney feels Pogue will have an immediate impact for the Trojans.

“Al Pogue is a guy that will make us better,” Blakeney said. “He will makes us better on the field, and off the field too.”


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Troy heads in to season’s final game searching for bowl

By Danielle Percival

For the second straight year, it all comes down to one final game for the Trojans to try and reach bowl eligibility.

This year’s team will be looking to do what the 2012 squad was unable to accomplish against Middle Tennessee, but they’ll be facing a tough 6-5 Texas State team that has dropped their last two contests.

Troy has been stuck on five wins since October 26th when the Trojans beat Western Kentucky and being winless over the last month has provided an added spark to end the year on a positive note.

“We’re very motivated. We’re competitors. We want this win,” running back Brandon Burks said. “It’s right there in our grasp. It’s just about what we can do to get it, so hopefully we’re going get it.”

The Trojans are aiming to make the postseason for the first time since 2010, but with limited tie-ins for the Sun Belt Conference and several teams already bowl eligible, the Trojans need to make a statement on Friday.

“I looked at the standings and I think if we can win this game, we’ve got pretty good status,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “I think we’ve got a shot at getting [a bowl]; a very legitimate shot.”

These players know what’s at stake on Friday and know they’ve got what it takes to reach postseason play.

“That’s the subject of the day, every day. Are we going get to a bowl game?” Burks said. “If you even think about football, that’s the first thing on your mind; that we’re capable of going to a bowl.”

It’s not just determination that will decide the outcome, however. It will come down to execution.

“I hope we can throw it because we don’t run it very good,” Blakeney said. “Even though we’ve improved running it, against most teams [we] couldn’t be classified as a running team.”

“Hopefully we can throw it on them. That’s what we like to do,” quarterback Corey Robinson said. “It’s my last game so hopefully we’ll air it out.”

One of Robinson’s most notable targets, wide receiver Eric Thomas, is hoping there are a lot of balls in the air as well.

“However many of them get thrown my way, that’s going be the amount I make,” Thomas said. “I’m catching everything.”

The Trojans have delivered under pressure this season including a game-winning touchdown against South Alabama with only 7 seconds remaining on the clock, and once again, the pressure is on to make the postseason.

“I haven’t ever been to [a bowl game],” Burks said. “I’ve never had a chance to win a ring, and this is my chance, so I really want to do it.”

The Trojans final opportunity to reach six wins will be Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium with kickoff against Texas State at 1 p.m.


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Troy’s Black Friday wish list has only one item on it

By Danielle Percival 

Many people buy gifts and check items off wish lists on Black Friday, but for the Troy Trojans, they’re looking for something money can’t buy.

“A win,” quarterback Corey Robinson said. “I mean, a bowl game. That’s what we want to get to.”

Getting bowl eligible will take a victory on Black Friday against Texas State and though the game isn’t on the typical schedule, the Trojans will have had ample time to prepare.

“The good thing about it we’ve got a week and a half, 10 days to get ready for them and that’ll be good for us,” defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt said. “Win the last one and hopefully get to a bowl game. That’s the plan.”

Texas State took the field this past Saturday against Western Kentucky and lost 38-7.

Starting quarterback Tyler Jones was scheduled to miss the rest of the season after suffering a broken hand but was forced to come back after back-up Tyler Arndt tossed three interceptions.

The Bobcats finished with only 130 total yards in the game but throughout the season have been a threat both in the air and on the ground.

“You’ve got to pick your poison, I guess,” Bolt said.

“We’ve got to be able to find a way to win the game,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “I don’t care who’s there and who’s not there.”

The Bobcats are 6-5 overall but only 2-4 in conference play, but Blakeney is not ready to write them off.

“They play hard and they’ve got a chance to beat anybody in our league,” Blakeney said.

The Bobcats are one of four Sun Belt teams that have reached bowl eligibility and the Trojans will be looking to become the fifth on Friday.

“We’ve just got to find a way to get one more. We got to claw and get it,” Robinson said. “If we get to six wins, I think everybody will be in a much better mood.”

There’s no question, reaching six wins has put added fuel on the fire.

“You know, as a competitor you don’t need much motivation to win but certainly that bowl eligibility being right there and right in front of us where we can see it is a huge motivator,” kicker Will Scott said.

“The biggest thing, first comes first is win,” Blakeney said. “Find a way to win.”

The Trojans will get the opportunity when they take the field at Veterans Memorial Stadium for the final game of the 2013 regular season on Friday.

Kickoff against the bowl-eligible Texas State Bobcats will be at1 p.m November 29.

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Undersized Worthy stepping up big for Troy late in season

By Danielle Percival

After being sidelined by a deep thigh bruise for a portion of the season, wide receiver Chandler Worthy was let off the leash on Saturday against Ole Miss.

Worthy tore through the Rebels for 133 yards on only seven receptions, but he says that’s only a taste of what’s to come in 2014.

“I mean, I lost pretty much an entire season this year so I’ve got a lot built up inside of me,” Worthy said. “You’re probably gonna see a whole different animal come out next year.”

Worthy was on the receiving end of the Trojans’ two longest plays of the day, including a 64-yard strike from quarterback Corey Robinson on the longest play of the year for Troy.

“He made two really big plays that really helped out,” offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said. “We thought we had an opportunity to get him a chance to make some of those plays and he did.”

“I knew I was gonna be able to out run the guy,” Worthy said.

What Worthy didn’t account for was the other defender who kept him from taking it to the house.

“I didn’t see the guy until like the last minute and then he tried to strip the ball from my side,” Worthy said.

Worthy didn’t get the touchdown but did make it to the 11-yard line on his longest play in over two seasons and on second thought, that called for some celebrating.

“I should have done my victory dance after I caught it,” Worthy said.

Worthy was in no shape for dancing just a few weeks ago.

He missed two games and had limited playing time against two other opponents while battling his leg injury.

“One of the biggest things about being injured is being able to get over that mental hump,” Worthy said. “Being able to run a route and not [being] sure if your leg is going to go out on you, that’s a horrible feeling to have throughout the whole season. It just feels good to be able to run and feel 100 percent and be able to make the plays you know you can make.”

“Everybody goes through certain things in life and when you overcome everything that you go through and still are able to go out there and play on Saturdays, you’re just proud of the guy,” Robinson said.

Injuries have been a concern on the offensive side of the ball with quarterback Deon Anthony missing a couple games and running back Brandon Burks getting dinged up throughout the year.

According to head coach Larry Blakeney, Anthony is scheduled to be back on the field against Texas State.

Since it will be the final game of the year, Burks says injured or not, he’ll be ready to go.

“I’ll have to suck it up then. Coach Blakeney will get on to me if I don’t,” Burks said. “To him, anything is good to go. If you don’t have a missing limb, you’re good to go, so I’ll be ready.”

The Trojans will take the field at Veterans Memorial Stadium for one final time this season on Friday, November 29th with kickoff at 1 p.m. against Texas State.


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Troy football still has eyes set on post-season play

By Danielle Percival

It was a historic day for both teams Saturday in Oxford, Miss. as the Ole Miss Rebels defeated the Troy Trojans 51-21 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Troy quarterback Corey Robinson has amassed over 3,000 yards for the fourth season, becoming only the third quarterback in NCAA history to achieve that mark.

The three other names on that list include Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Hawaii’s Timmy Chang and Boise State’s Kellen Moore.

Robinson’s final stats were 24-of-36 for 258 yards, but he did not put one in the end zone.

On the other side of the field, the Rebels’ offense put up record setting numbers finishing with 751 yards of offense, the most in school history.

“I did a poor job of getting them [the defense] ready,” defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt said. “I did a bad job coaching and they did a bad job playing. It was a two-fold deal against a good football team.”

That also marks the most yards the Trojans have given up once going Division-1, just edging the mark Tennessee put up on Troy last season.

The Rebels were balanced in their attack with 382 yards on the ground and 369 passing yards.

The leading rusher was quarterback Bo Wallace who rushed for 66 yards and a score, while also leading the team in passing finishing 17-of-26 for 272 yards and three touchdowns.

For the Trojan offense, there was no balance.

Troy finished with minus-13 yards rushing, in large part to three sacks.

The Trojans only put seven points on the board through the first three quarters and gave up 37 unanswered at one point.

The loss drops the Trojans to 5-6 with one final chance to reach bowl eligibility.

The team does have a week off before having to take the field against the Texas State Bobcats and that bye week will be important.

“It’s going to be good to get off your feet a little while,” running back Brandon Burks said. “This bye week we don’t practice that long, but it’s more of a mental practice this week.”

Texas State is 6-4 entering the weekend with Western Kentucky still remaining on the schedule before the regular season finale against the Trojans.

“It’s another great challenge,” Bolt said. “But the most important thing is to get bowl eligible and go to a bowl. game.”

The last time the Trojans were bowl eligible was in 2010 when they beat Ohio in the New Orleans Bowl.

Though most of the players on the team have not experienced a bowl game, head coach Larry Blakeney is hoping there is chatter about the possibility of going bowling.

“I hope they’re talking about it, especially if it’s motivational,” Blakeney said. “It won’t matter how much we talk. It matters how much we prepare, how hard we play, and how well we play.

The Trojans will return to action on Friday, November 29th against Texas State with a 1:00 kickoff at Veterans Memorial Stadium


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Troy can’t keep pace with Ole Miss

By Danielle Percival

The Troy Trojans surrendered the most yards Ole Miss had ever recorded in a 51-21 defeat in Oxford, Miss. Saturday afternoon.

The Rebels racked up 751 yards of offense, the most the Trojans have allowed in the Division-1 era.

The Rebels established a balanced attack in the game finishing with 382 yards on the ground and 369 through the air.

Quarterback Bo Wallace tore through the Trojans for 272 yards through the air and three touchdowns.

He also led the team with 66 yards rushing and another touchdown.

Trojan quarterback Corey Robinson finished the game 24-of-36 for 258 yards but did not have a touchdown, breaking his 16 game streak with at least one score.

The Trojans were unable to get anything going on the ground ending the game with -13 yards.

The irony is all three of the Trojans’ touchdowns came on the ground.

Troy kept pace with the Rebels in the first ten minutes of the game with the score tied at 7, but the Rebels would then reel off 37 unanswered points.

Troy’s first touchdown of the day came on a 5-yard run by Brandon Burks for his second rushing touchdown of the season.

The Trojans put 14 points on the board in the fourth quarter with touchdowns by Jordan Chunn and Daron White.

Chandler Worthy led all Troy receivers with seven receptions for 133 yards.

Twice in the first half, Troy had the opportunity to score but two turnovers cost the Trojans.

Robinson fumbled on a sack and also threw an interception, but neither led to Ole Miss scores.

The loss drops the Trojans to 5-6 overall and leaves them with one opportunity left to reach bowl eligibility.

Troy will have a bye week before facing Texas State on November 29th for the season finale at Veterans Memorial Stadium.


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Wasden’s play call makes K.D.’s mom ‘proud’

By Danielle Percival

You might think offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield is his wife’s favorite Troy football coach, but he says that’s not the case this week.

Shane Wasden, special teams coordinator, has taken that spot after calling a punt block that led to K.D. Edenfield’s first career touchdown.

“[My wife] has been waiting for me, busting my chops, because I wouldn’t throw him one,” Kenny Edenfield said. “He made his own so that was really good to see.”

“I didn’t realize that was his first touchdown till Kenny mentioned it on the headsets,” Wasden said.

Edenfield kept it professional on the headsets, but the proud papa knew mom would be beaming as well.

“He just said ‘Great job,’” Wasden said. “Then we kicked off and he said ‘That was his first touchdown. Momma will be proud.’”

But it turns out, Edenfield only caught the tail end of the play.

“I did not see it. I was looking at my call sheet,” Edenfield said. “We’re trying to score points. They had to punt. I’m looking at my call sheet getting ready to call a play. I heard them yell and I looked up and he was getting in the end zone. That’s the life of a coach.”

The play call was the second time in the game that the punt team rushed to try and get a block and the second time around K.D. Edenfield positioned himself differently.

“In the scheme he was supposed to rush, which he did on the time that we had it called earlier,” Wasden said. “But he asked me, ‘I didn’t really get close to it. Do you want me to hang back just in case they were to try something, a fake?’ I said, “Yeah, hang back.” So he hangs back, and it worked out for everybody.”

The one who made the touchdown possible was Eli Canton who blocked the punt.

“I was kind of surprised I got it. I got through but I just felt it hit my hand,” Canton said. “I didn’t bust through completely, but like coach teaches us all week, got skinny and stuck my hand through and felt the ball hit my hand and so that got me excited.”

Canton already has one touchdown to his name this season after an interception returned for the score against Savannah State.

“The interception [was more exciting] because I scored,” Canton said. “At least I wasn’t quite as tired after the punt block. I didn’t have to run 80 yards, so that was a positive.”

With Canton’s good hands, you never know where he might end up in the game.

“We may need to pull him over and run a little H-back,” Wasden said. “He could do it and I promise you he’d be willing to do it. He’s one of those guys that’s fun to coach. He wants to help win however and in whatever way he’s capable.”

While Wasden might already be drawing up the next punt block, he’s got a promise to fulfill since the special teams unit found the end zone.

“He’s told us all year if we score on special teams, he’ll cook us a steak,” Canton said. “That was inside motivation for everybody.”

There has been no date set for the grill out, but Canton isn’t letting Wasden forget about the offer.

“I’ve been asking him,” Canton said. “We’ve got to keep it quiet so don’t everybody try to come eat.”

So what happens if the team is able to block and score again this week?

“[If we] block two, maybe it’ll be double or nothing and get four steaks,” Canton said.

Canton and the Trojans have the opportunity to find out Thursday night, as the team will be in action at Louisiana-Lafayette with kickoff at 6:30 p.m.


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Troy looks to limit mistakes, penalties against ULL

By Danielle Percival

Coming off a Thursday night loss to Louisiana-Monroe, the Troy Trojans will have another quick turnaround as they face Louisiana-Lafayette this Thursday.

The Trojans struggled with penalties against the Warhawks and that’s an area the team has been focusing on heading into the next game.

“The ones we can control coach tells us all the time, don’t retaliate or don’t do nothing stupid to hurt the team,” wide receiver Eric Thomas said. “We’ve just got to stop doing that and just think about each other instead of ourselves.”

“We can’t kill ourselves like that,” quarterback Corey Robinson said. “That’s what we talked about and what we’re going to have to do this week is be a disciplined football. Change our whole mentality about how people carry themselves in the game and play by the rules.”

Two of the biggest injuries coming out of Thursday’s game were to safety Camren Hudson and quarterback Deon Anthony.

Hudson has been moving at practice and will likely be a game-time decision Thursday.

Anthony had ankle surgery over the weekend and his status is unsure for the Louisiana-Lafayette game.

Without Anthony, the game plan heading in to Thursday night could be altered.

“We’ve done it before,” offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said. “We didn’t have Deon all the years we’ve been here. Hopefully he’ll be able to help but we’ll see.”

“It’s going to be normal, back to trying to sling it around a little bit and letting the running backs do their job,” Robinson said. “ Of course we’re going to miss that guy because he’s a playmaker and scores touchdowns when the ball is in his hands.”

The Ragin Cajuns are coming off a 49-35 win at home Saturday against New Mexico State.

The Aggies led by 21 in the first half but Louisiana-Lafayette scored 35 unanswered to put the game away.

“That’s the sign of a good football team,” Blakeney said. “Just like all the teams in our league, you can win or lose on a given night against anybody in our conference.”

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Alonzo Harris only amassed 106 yards but reached the end zone five times to tie the single-game school record.

“He’s a lot like our boy from Western Kentucky [Antonio Andrews],” Bolt said. “He’s another good back that we face. We’ve faced some good ones this fall.”

The Trojans have been successful against the run only allowing 108 yards on the ground to Louisiana-Monroe.

So far the Trojans are winless in midweek contests this season with losses to Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe.

Louisiana-Lafayette is the top team in the conference, currently undefeated in Sun Belt play, but has four conference games remaining on the schedule.

“It’s an opportunity that we’ve got to try and take advantage of,” Blakeney said. “It’s a chance for us to turn things around in the league.”

This will be the Trojans third and final Thursday night contest this season but the unique scheduling will continue.

The Trojans final game of the season will be on Black Friday, November 29, at home against Texas State.

Despite having a midweek game this week, it doesn’t create a short week for the Trojans.

“It’s just like a Saturday to Saturday game,” Robinson said. “We get to be on TV again so hopefully we can go out there and do a better job this week against Lafayette on TV.”

Thursday night’s game in Lafayette will be televised on ESPNU with kickoff at 6:30 p.m.


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Competitive Troy defense leads team in to big Sun Belt game

By Danielle Percival

The Trojan defense enters every game with a common goal; however, the opponent’s offense isn’t the only competition on the field.

This season, the internal competition among the defensive players has been raised and the overall success has risen with it.

The two leading tacklers on the team are safeties Camren Hudson and Chris Pickett, and they’re putting pressure on the linebackers to elevate their game.

“They’ve got to step it up,” Hudson said. “It’s a big competition between us and the linebackers on tackles.”

“I ain’t really all for being third on the team in tackles but, you know, we [are] winning so it’s all good,” linebacker Mark Wilson said.

Pickett and Wilson both had career highs in tackles in the Trojans’ last game at Western Kentucky, but it was Pickett who had the bragging rights in the end.

“When we got on the bus, first thing Mark said was, ‘My girl told me I had 12 tackles.’ I said, “Man I’m looking at the stat sheet. You had 10 tackles. I had 14,” Pickett said.

“I had got[ten] excited, but it is what it is,” Wilson said. “We’ve been going on all season about it. I’ve been trying to catch him and Cam[ren] but they’re always one step ahead of me.”

Just because Wilson is eyeing the numbers on the stat sheets and trying to surpass the safeties doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate what the members of the defense are accomplishing.

“We’ve got two good safeties,” Wilson said. “They’re greedy and it’s good for us so I ain’t complaining as long as we’re getting the job done.”

“I tell them boys, ‘We’re out here trying to make a living just like y’all,’” Pickett said. “They know it’s all fun. We’re all competitive guys out there.”

No matter the level of competition, it’s clear the team is fighting for one goal.

“We’ve got to play for each other on any snap,” Pickett said. “It’s always great to have that confidence [in one another] and to look in your teammates’ eyes and see that confidence.”

It will take a team effort to keep pushing for the conference title and that continues Thursday night against Louisiana-Monroe.

“This cat coming in here Thursday night is gonna put a lot of pressure on them [the defense], I promise you,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “His name’s Kolton Browning.”

Browning is the Warhawks’ quarterback who missed a portion of the season with an injury and was rumored to miss the rest of the year, however, he returned last week to face Georgia State.

“When Kolton’s in, it’s a whole different game,” Hudson said. “It’s gonna be a test for us but we’ll be ready for it.”

“We’ve got to play good on defense. We’re gonna give some stuff up there’s no question,” Blakeney said. “We’ve just got to make sure you try to limit them, get stops and get off the field and give the offense the ball.”

Thursday night’s conference match-up will be at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium with kickoff at 6:30 p.m.


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Troy faces short turnaround for big Sun Belt game

By Danielle Percival

The nation’s leading rusher was one yard short on the play that mattered most thanks to a timely stop by the Troy Trojan defense on fourth-and-one with less than two minutes to go to seal a 32-26 victory for Troy Saturday in Bowling Green, Ky.

Western Kentucky running back Antonio Andrews was handed the ball on the Hilltoppers’ final play of the game but it was the Trojan defense and safety Camren Hudson who won the battle at the line, stopping Andrews for no gain and preserving a Trojan victory.

“We already knew they were going to give the ball to number 5 [Andrews],” Hudson said. “It looked like he got it, but then again everybody was saying ‘nah, he didn’t get it’ and that’s when I got amped up.”

“When they stopped them on that fourth down, it was a sigh of relief,” quarterback Corey Robinson said.

Early in the fourth quarter, running back Jordan Chunn rushed for his second touchdown of the game on what would be the game-winning score.

Chunn is leading all freshmen running backs in the country with nine rushing touchdowns this season.

The Trojans would then complete a 2-point conversion on a pass from wide-receiver Eric Thomas to fellow receiver B.J. Chitty.

“We worked on that all week at practice,” Thomas said. “[Chitty] told me to find him and give it a nice soft touch and he was going to make the play.”

It wasn’t the prettiest pass Chitty’s ever seen, but it got the job done.

“He got it there so I’ll give him a 10,” Chitty said. “[As a former quarterback] it was a 3 or a 4.”

That was the first completion of Thomas’ career but Saturday was also the first game this season that he has been held without a touchdown and that snapped his 8-game streak carrying over from last season.

After giving up 20 points in the first half, the defense held the Hilltoppers to only six points in the final thirty minutes.

The effort of the defense paid off Saturday as they forced two Western Kentucky turnovers, both of which were recovered by Trojans and both ensuing drives went for touchdowns.

Though the defense had forced 16 fumbles this year, only one had made its way into Trojan hands.

“You can see the excitement when it happens on the sidelines,” offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said. “We were able to take advantage of both of them.”

The Hilltoppers would finish with 532 yards of offense with Andrews accounting for 292 all-purpose yards.

The Trojan offense only amassed 397 yards making this the first game since a September 2012 victory at North Texas where the Trojans have been able to record a win despite being held under 400 yards of total offense.

Western Kentucky might have out-gained Troy, but the Trojans outscored the Hilltoppers 22-6 in the second half.

To start the third quarter, quarterback Corey Robinson took sole possession of the Sun Belt Conference career touchdown passes record on a 40-yard bullet to wide receiver Chris Williams.

Robinson has now tossed 77 touchdowns in a Troy jersey, going 20-of-32 passing for 306 yards with the touchdown on Saturday.

This is the first victory Robinson has had in his home state since moving to the college ranks.

“It felt awesome for many more reasons than personal,” Robinson said. “It felt really good just to get another win in our conference and get one closer to the bowl game.”

Troy now sits at 5-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play which leaves them second only to Louisiana-Lafayette, who is still undefeated in the league.

The Trojans have a short week as they prepare for Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday night.

“We’ve got to go out there and take care of business,” Robinson said. “If we can get that one, spirits are going to be high.”

Kickoff on Halloween will be at 6:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy