Trojans prepare for the ‘unknown’
Published 12:00 am Monday, August 28, 2000
Troy State will make an opening season trek this weekend to play Alabama A&M and Trojan head coach Larry Blakeney admitted on Monday that information about the 2000 version of the Bulldogs is scarce at best.
" This will be our first time travelling to Normal to play Alabama A&M," said Blakeney. "They’re unknown to us. We really don’t know what to expect. About the only thing we have is film from last season and that may not be consistent with what we see on Saturday."
The Bulldogs return nine starters on both sides of the ball and were 6-5 last season in head coach Ron Cooper’s third year.
"They’ll be well coached and athletic," said Blakeney. "For us to win, we’re going to have to take advantage of what they give us on offense and move the chains. Defensively, we can’t give up the big plays."
Blakeney said he and his coaches would just have to go into the game with a "broad game plan."
"We’ll have to go in there and make the necessary adjustments when the need arises," he said. "It certainly makes you cautious when you go into a game against an opponent you’re not familiar with."
Last season Alabama A&M ran an option-style offense, similar to the one used by defending Division 1-AA National Champions Georgia Southern University.
"We’ve been around the option long enough where it shouldn’t hurt our defense as long as they don’t out-execute us," Blakeney said. "I believe we’re flexible enough on defense to adjust to anything."
Blakeney said the kicking game was "extremely important" in opening games. As evidence of that, one needs only look at the Kickoff Classic between Penn State and USC on Sunday.The Trojans exposed the Nittany Lions special teams, blocking a punt in the first two minutes of the game and carrying it in for a score.
"We’re lucky enough to have two fine kickers in punter Matt Allen and Lawrence Tynes our placekicker," said Blakeney. "As far as kick returners we’ve got Demontray Carter and Jonathan Carter. They should be able to replace the guys we had back there last season."
Punt return was an area of weakness for the Trojans last season and Blakeney said he would like to see a distinct improvement this year.
"We were last in the league in ’99," he said. "We’ve got Travis Bozeman back there and he came in and returned some punts last season. We’ve worked hard during the spring and summer to get better at returning punts."
Blakeney said he wanted his tenth Trojan team to be a "contact team."
"I want people to look at Troy State and see a team that will knock your head off for 60 minutes," he said. "That’s something I’ve always tried to teach. If you get a bunch of players that love to hit, they you’ll win some ball games. Contact takes over in the fourth quarter."