Trojans begin preparation for season opener at Nebraska

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2001

For the Troy State football team, the real work has now begun.

With two-a-days and fundamental practices behind them, the Trojans set their sights on preparing for their opener with fourth-ranked Nebraska on Wednesday, working against their offensive and defensive scout teams for the first time since practice began two weeks ago.

The Trojans worked for two hours in full gear, drawing praise from head coach Larry Blakeney.

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"When you start working on your opponent, the concentration level certainly rises," Blakeney said. "I thought we had some good work today. Having all of our offensive linemen back healthy is making a huge difference with our offensive productivity. I thought all of our guys looked sharp in our 1-on-1 and ‘skeleton’ drills. We just need to keep polishing and working to get better."

The Trojans continue to fine-tune the newly installed "Trojan Spread" offense, which has begun to show signs of life since the return of linemen junior Rodney Jordan (pectoral), junior Trent Garmon (hamstring) and senior Charlie Goodyear (shoulder). For the second consecutive day, the Trojans had their anticipated starting lineup of junior Stan Curington (left tackle), junior Robin Lee (left guard), Garmon (center), Jordan (right guard) and sophomore Branden Hall (right tackle) on the field together.

Six linemen have missed work with injuries since August practice began. Only one ­ true freshman James Edwards (sprained knee) ­ has not returned. He is expected back in mid-September.

For all the negative impact missing linemen have had on the Trojans’ offensive development, a pair of freshman wide receivers have made their mark on it and worked themselves onto the two-deep depth chart. Jason Samples and Jamaal Smith have worked themselves in the rotation at the receiver and slot positions, respectively.

Blakeney said both have earned their spots.

"They have both come in and been solid for us," Blakeney said. "They are catching balls and picking up this offense quickly. They will have a chance to help our team."

The Trojans will practice Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m. before holding their final preseason scrimmage at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.

TROJAN NOTES: Sophomore slot receiver Calvin Colquitt returned to action on Wednesday after missing Tuesday’s workout with hip soreness. The only Trojans not participating in Wednesday’s workouts were defensive lineman Jamaal Holt (ankle) and wide receiver Caleb Michaelson (back). Holt is expected to return next week.

The Troy State Football Appreciation Night, with a raffle and auction to benefit the TSU football program, is scheduled for Thursday at the Troy Holiday Inn. The event will begin at 6 p.m. For more information, or to purchase tickets for the raffle, call Marcus Paramore at (334) 670-3480.

The Trojans will hold a "Fan Appreciation Rally" on Thursday, Aug. 30, at Trojan Arena. The event is free to the public and will take the place of the team’s annual "Fan Day." Players will be on hand for autographs, along with free refreshments and T-shirts for children under 12. The festivities will begin with a pep rally from 6:30-7 p.m. Fan activities are scheduled from 7-8 p.m.

The team will hold its Picture Day on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Richard M. Scrushy Field and Memorial Stadium.