Trojans receive reality check against Raiders

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Sports Editor

Reality has set in at Troy State University.

The Trojans took a hard 54-17 lick from three-year Division 1-A infant Middle Tennessee State this past weekend, but head coach Larry Blakeney feels in the back of

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his coaches and players minds, as well as his own, there still dwelled some thoughts on Lincoln and Nebraska.

TSU was beaten by the No. 5 Cornhuskers 42-14 to open the season on Sept. 1.

"We got treated so well after getting the crap beat out of us out there in Nebraska…their fans were so nice to us, we were getting all goosebumpy and we started getting all these nice e-mails and letters," said Blakeney. "And our fans were just happy that we didn’t get beat by 53 points. We probably got back in here and even though we were trying to put that whole thing behind us, it was impossible to dodge all the comments we were getting. And I’m sure our players were getting some to."

It wasn’t that the Blue Raiders beat the Trojans on Saturday night; it was that they did it with such ease. Middle-Tennessee rolled up 641 yards of offense and although MTS All-American prospect Dwone Hicks (55 yards on Saturday) didn’t break the 100-yard barrier against Troy State, he didn’t need to. Hicks hammered the Trojans’ defense for three touchdowns, before giving way to a trio of back-ups who accounted for the other 258 yards of the Blue Raiders’ 313 ground total.

Third string tailback Don Calloway led all rushers with 95 yards.

"There’s not many happy campers around here today," said Blakeney. "The first thing we did as coaches was evaluate ourselves. Then we evaluated what we were trying to do on the field."

Blakeney, as well as defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt, said that third down conversions by the Middle Tennessee offense hurt the Trojans most of all.

The Blue Raiders converted on 11-of-15 third down attempts, many of which were in long or medium yardage situations.

"Third down was a big down for them," said Bolt. "Early in the game, when the game was still a game, before it got out of hand, they converted several third down plays. The first touchdown pass to (Kendall) Newsome was on a scramble (by quarterback Wes Counts) on a third and eight."

Not helping matters was the TSU offense’s inability to get the ball in the endzone early. Senior quarterback Brock Nutter threw for 204 yards on the night, but was sacked five times for a net loss of 33 yards. Take away the sacks and the Trojans running game gained 98 yards, led by Demontray Carter’s 55 yard effort.

"We got behind so quick that we had to almost abandon the run completely," said TSU offensive coordinator John Shannon. "That’s a problem for us right now. If we’re unable to run the ball, we will not be a good team offensively."

The Trojans will spend this week preparing for Jerry Moore’s Appalachian State Mountaineers. The Mountaineers knocked Troy State out in the opening round of the Division 1-AA playoffs last season.

ASU fell to Wake Forest 20-10 last week.

But Blakeney knows that he’ll face a good football team on Saturday.

"We’re looking dead, down the barrel at an 0-3 start and if you don’t believe it, you need to come watch the film that I’ve seen on Appalachian State," said Blakeney. "If we come into Saturday’s game like we did this past weekend, we’re going to get run out of our own stadium."

Kickoff will be at 6:05 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.