TSU’s Blakeney looking for all the’answers’ with team

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Sports Editor

Trojans head coach Larry Blakeney begin Troy State’s annual preseason Media Day on Saturday with a simple response to the questions he felt sure the media were getting ready to bombard him with.

"This time right now, I don’t have a lot of answers," he said. "It’s usually in the postseason, after you’ve done well when you have the answers. Hopefully though we’ll find some answers about the chemistry of this football team come the next few weeks of practice."

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With fall practice just getting underway last week, Blakeney said this year’s TSU football team is still in the "development" stages.

"There is no doubt we have a lot of quality to replace from a player’s standpoint," Blakeney said. "Those group of seniors we had last year decided they were going to exert themselves as leaders and our team responded to that."

The Trojans sent five players from the 1999 team to the NFL, including Buck Buchanan Award winner Al Lucas and the team’s leading receiver Mareno Philyaw. They also lost linebacker Anthony Rabb, last season’s leading tackler, to graduation.

Blakeney said the real challenge this season would be the schedule. Troy State plays seven games on the road.

"We’ve got our work cut out for us this year, " he said. "But the last time we had this schedule, in ’96,

we were able to win the league outright. We’ve been a road team before."

Blakeney said playing on the road was a "state of mind."

"The game is going to be played on the same size field with the same opponents," he said. "You just basically have to be road tough. But we have some tough players and I know they and our coaches will adapt to it."

Senior linebacker Nick Colbert said this season would not be much different from 1999. Last year the Trojans only faced five opponents at home.

"I think, other then the game against McNeese State, we proved we were a team that was able to travel on the road last year," said Colbert. " A lot of times you feel like you are at a disadvantage because of the crowd, but last season we were able to come out and take the crowd out of it early by getting on top. That’s what we’re going to have to do this year."

The Trojans suffered their only loss of the regular season last year on the road to McNeese State, 24-7. Blakeney called the Cowboys TSU’s Southland Football League "nemesis."

"McNeese State took that role from Stephen F. Austin," Blakeney said. "We were able to beat Stephen F. Austin last year."

Blakeney also called Florida A&M the Trojans’ Division 1-AA playoff "nemesis." The Rattlers have eliminated Blakeney’s team from the postseason the past two years, including last season’s 17-10 win in Troy.

Colbert said the team has tried "to collect" themselves and learn from the mistakes that cost them the Florida A&M game last year.

"Florida A&M came out against us and had a really good game," he said. "But I don’t think we’ve put it behind us, simply because if we get a chance to play them again in the playoffs this year and have the opportunity to redeem ourselves, then that will be a good situation to get up for. I’d love to return the favor."