TSU wishes to show improvement on Saturday

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 21, 2001

Sports Editor

Troy State and Nicholls State both enter this week’s game 0-2 on the season, but after that the similarities are few and far between.

Some examples?

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Dating back to last year’s season-ending loss to Appalachian State, the Trojans have lost three straight. Nicholls State has dropped 12 in a row.

Quarterback Josh Son and the Colonels run out of the option. TSU spreads the field and dares a defense to cover its wide receivers.

Nicholls lost their first two games to Division 1-AA teams Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State. Troy State fell to No. 5 Nebraska and an offensive buzzsaw in Middle Tennessee.

The most glaring contrast?

TSU has won eight out of the last nine against the Colonels.

Still, head coach Larry Blakeney, feels he has some things to worry about.

"They (NSU) are a much improved team offensively. They are doing a bunch of different things with the same offense and have three, maybe four quarterbacks, that are posing a lot of problems to teams," said Blakeney. "I think (NSU head coach ) Darrel Daye is a very good young coach. If anyone can get the job done, he can. It may take some time, but he will get it done."

With offensive coordinator John Shannon’s ‘Trojan Spread’ still testing the waters in its first ever season, Blakeney knows that Daye will do everything he can to keep quarterback Brock Nutter and the offense guessing.

"Darrel Daye is a defensive-minded coach," said Blakeney. "Their defense is much like the one Middle Tennessee runs with three or four guys off to one side. Their capabilities are endless."

While junior Heyward Skipper has proven to be a go-to receiver for the Trojans, (14 catches, 214 yards and three TDs so far in 2001), Shannon and the offense are still struggling to find a No. 2 wide out. That prompted the promotion of sophomore Chad Lucas to a starting position earlier in the week.

"I knew I had the ability and just had to work harder to get the staring nod," said Lucas.

"One of the things we talked about with the receivers is having someone to step up and Heyward has done that both on the field and at practice," said Shannon about Skipper. "The quarterbacks are feeling good about the routes he is running and that they can count on him. We’re real pleased with the first two games Heyward had."

The Colonels used four different quarterbacks against Jacksonville State two week’s ago, but will likely rotate Son and junior Roy Burchett for the majority of the game this week.

"Burchett is a jitterbug-type of player," said Trojans’ defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt. "But no matter which one of them is in there, you have to be sound on defense. They (NSU) are basically a wishbone team with double-slots. That is what a lot of teams have gone to. It is an offense that is tough to prepare for both mentally and physically."

Although the Colonels run the option, Bolt points out that Nicholls State’s offense and that of Nebraska, are vastly different.

"It helped us playing a team like Nebraska," he said. "But Nebraska was more of a power running team, where as Nicholls State is more of a finesse team."

After watching his defense surrender over 1,000 yards and 96 points in its last two games, Blakeney is preparing for anything this weekend.

"We will have to work hard on fundamental decisions and have to make sure we’ve got our assignments down," he said. "You have to be ready for all sorts of gimmicks and reverses. Our linebackers have played consistently and the secondary has played well at times, but our defense at Middle Tennessee was probably one of the worst performances we have ever had since I’ve been here."