Trojans prepare for No. 1 Miami

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 26, 2001

The Troy State football team practiced for two hours in full gear on Tuesday, beginning preparations for games against a pair of Top 25 teams in the next three weeks.

The Trojans (1-2) are open this weekend, but they face top-ranked Miami (Coaches and AP) at the Orange Bowl on Oct. 6 and Mississippi State (No. 22 Coaches, No. 21 AP) on Oct. 13.

"We know these next two games will be extremely challenging for us," Troy State head coach Larry Blakeney said. "We are playing two programs that are extremely successful and very different in their approaches. We need to spend the next week making ourselves better before we head to Miami."

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That was the focus of the team’s practice on Tuesday.

"We focused on us a lot today," Blakeney said. "We introduced Miami, or at least what we know about them ­ other than that they are very, very good. We spent the majority of practice working on fundamentals, and trying to make ourselves better."

Blakeney praised the team’s effort and the kicking game, which has shown substantial improvement each week with Jeremy Schatz as the starting punter and Drew Boteler at placekicker. Both have settled into their roles, Blakeney said, and continue to make strides. Both positions were significant question marks heading into the season.

Schatz averaged 40 yards per kick on three attempts last week against Nicholls State, while Boteler is 1-of-2 on field goal attempts and 6-of-7 on point-after attempts.

Several Trojans missed practice on Monday, including four defensive linemen ­ Davern Williams, Shelton Felton, Osi Umenyiora and Byron Knight ­ who suffered bruised knees and legs during Saturday’s 26-0 win over Nicholls State. All four should return this week.

In other news:

Tickets still remain for all four of the Trojans’ remaining road games at Miami ($35), Mississippi State ($22), Maryland ($25) and Louisiana-Monroe ($12). For more information, or to purchase tickets, call the Troy State ticket office at 1-877-TSU-TICS.