Defense leading Trojans in preseason

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 24, 2001

The Troy State defense has enjoyed a productive and dominant two weeks of preparation since two-a-days began on Aug. 9, but Trojans head coach Larry Blakeney is quick to point out that the true measure of the unit’s mettle will come in just nine days.

"Our defense is a veteran group," Blakeney said. "But they will be tested in so many different ways in our first three games (against Nebraska, Middle Tennessee and Appalachian State). We will see three substantially different offenses and be challenged physically each time. It is definitely going to be a test, and a test where we will probably need them to carry us a little while we feel our way into the new offense."

The Trojans’ first test will come against fourth-ranked Nebraska on Sept. 1. The game will be televised by FOX Sports as part of the Big 12 syndication package. The game can be seen locally, however, on UPN Channel 67.

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Junior defensive lineman Davern Williams said the Trojans are ready for the season to begin.

"We have all been together for so long," Williams said. "Some of these guys have been together for four years, and when I got here (in 2000) I just stepped right in. We know each other, and that has played a big role in our success. We have just been fine-tuning things, working on fundamentals and trying to get ready. We know it will be a challenge once we get started. We know we’ve got to do our part."

With eight players returning who have started games, this year’s defensive unit will be one of the most experienced the Trojans’ have had in years. The unit boasts solid depth at every position, prompting defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt to redshirt all of the team’s newcomers except safety Arthur Adams and defensive lineman Demarcus Ware.

"We like the personnel we have," Bolt said. "They have been in our system for a while and understand what we are trying to do. That makes it so much easier. We believe this group can keep us in some games and be one of the best we’ve ever had."


Junior wide receiver Heyward Skipper missed Thursday’s workout with flu-like symptoms. He is expected to return on Friday. Sophomore defensive lineman Jamaal Holt (ankle) was the only other Trojan to miss workouts on Thursday.

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.