TSU needs strong defensive showing against App State

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Sports Editor

Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch befuddled the Troy State defensive front with the option two week’s ago.

Middle Tennessee’s Wes Counts threw for two touchdowns and 220 yards against the TSU secondary in last Saturday’s 54-17 Blue Raider win.

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And things don’t get any easier when quarterback Joe Burchette and the Appalachian State Mountaineers roll into town for Saturday’s game at Memorial Stadium.

Burchette, a 6-4, 235 pound junior, will probably be the purest drop back passer that the Trojans have faced so far in the season.

"Burchette presents a problem," said TSU defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt. "He’s got

a strong arm and he’s a big kid. Plus, he had some success against us last year. He’s not just a passer either. He will tuck the ball in and run with it."

Burchette came in late for injured starter David Reaves in the Trojans first meeting with ASU last season in Boone, N.C. Troy State won the game 34-28, but Burchette almost led the Mountaineers back in the latter stages of the fourth quarter. He was 4-of-8 for 98 yards and was the team’s second leading rusher with 30 yards on five carries, including a 5-yard touchdown run.

"He did a lot of damage to us in the first game when we had dropped back into sort of a prevent defense," said Bolt.

But following that game, Burchette held onto the starting job for the rest of the season and in the first round of the Division 1-AA playoffs, the Mountaineers payed the Trojans back, winning 33-30 behind the then-sophomore’s 27-of-41, 238 yard passing performance.

Bolt’s defense is in need of a good performance on Saturday if the Trojans are to come away with their first victory of the season. Allowing an average of 549 yards per game in the last two outings, does not sit well with the five-year defensive coordinator. Middle Tennessee’s 641 yard effort last weekend was the second highest total allowed in school history.

"It’s obvious we didn’t play well defensively against Middle," said Bolt. "A lot of that can be attributed to them. They’re as good as we thought and it was an eye-opener for us. We have a lot of work to do to get ready for ASU this weekend."

Bolt said the Mountaineers’ offense is "a little like Nebraska and Middle Tennessee."

"They have a two-back offense and will spread it out with Burchette at quarterback. We have to be ready for both the run and the pass. (ASU head coach) Jerry Moore has done a good job with their program and they have some good players."

The Mountaineers dropped a 20-10 decision to Wake Forest last week, but beat Liberty 46-26 to open the season. Besides Burchette, App State returns their top three running backs in Karim Razzak, Jerry Beard and Jimmy Watkins.

"Saturday (against MTS) was very frustrating and embarrassing to the defense and Troy State as a whole," said defensive back Rayshun Reed. "We have to forget about that game and concentrate on Appalachian State. They have good speed and we don’t want to lose three straight."

Linebacker Naazir Yamini said he expects to face a "physical" football team this weekend.

"We have to play them as hard as we did Nebraska," he said. "Entering this year, this was one of the games I circled as one I did not want to lose."