Continuing showers across south Alabama hinders Troy State’s practices

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 12, 2001

Sports Editor

Thanks to continuing rain showers, the Troy State football team has spent the last five days dodging rain instead of contact in search of a dry place to practice.

The Trojans’ coaching staff worked with the newcomers on Tuesday and Wednesday inside TSU’s Natatorium and the National Guard Armory across from Memorial Stadium. When the upperclassmen arrived on Thursday for practice what they were greeted with was a saturated practice field, which forced some workouts to be moved to the TSU soccer and intramural fields.

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"Our bottom field is just so soaked," said Troy State head coach Larry Blakeney on Friday. "It’s hard to get the work in when it can come up a rain shower at any minute."

Rain aside, Blakeney said the Trojans have been able to get in as much work as possible and the 11-year head coach says he’s been impressed with the play of a few newcomers.

With a new offense in place that features a four or five wideout set, the Trojans can use all the receivers they can get. Freshmen Jason Samples, as well as junior college transfer Eric Felton have caught Blakeney’s eye as two players that can offer immediate help in that area.

Samples is a tall player at 6-foot-3 and is one of eight players signed by the Trojans who possess the physical attributes to play either defensive back or wide receiver. Felton transferred in from Los Angeles Valley Junior College, where he hauled in 25 passes for 608 yards. That includes an 11 catch, 204 yard performance in a single game.

"We’re also looking at some of the freshmen that may be able to help us at linebacker and defensive back," said Blakeney. "We have some that look good when it comes to simple alignments and such, but then when we give them more assignments, it sort of bogs them down."

Junior Heyward Skipper (26 catches, 386 yards in 2000) will likely be the Trojans’ go-to receiver, but offensive coordinator John Shannon has stressed the need to find someone to compliment Skipper in order to prevent double-teams.

Sophomores Chris Day and Chad Lucas have looked good early on and senior Daniel O’Brien can man the slot position. O’Brien caught 111 passes for 131 yards last year, many of them in clutch third-down situations.

Blakeney said junior Thomie Venisee has been held out of practice due to a hamstring injury.

TROJAN NOTES:Several players missed the team’s Friday afternoon workout with minor injuries, including offensive linemen Trent Garmon (hamstring), Rodney Jordan (arm) and Donnie Bostian (heat). Tight end Adrian Moore, who tore knee ligaments during the spring, was also sidelined for the afternoon workout after experiencing tenderness. O’Brien was held out due to heat-related stress.

Heading into Wednesday’s first scrimmage, junior Jonathan Tomlin has moved to the top spot at fullback after the loss of junior LaQuateus Justice to academics over the summer. As a result, junior LeBarron Black and sophomore DeWhitt Betterson have also began to see practice time at fullback and could see time at the position.

Blakeney said that in an effort to get tailback Demontray Carter more involved in the offense, the Pensacola, Fla., native would begin working out at slot receiver, along with Black.