Troy State tries to recover

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 6, 2001

Sports Editor

Time to regroup.

Troy State is coming off a 47-14 loss to No. 15 Maryland, a defeat which snapped a modest three-game win streak by the Trojans.

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"We played a very good football team in Maryland," said head coach Larry Blakeney. "They’re going to beat a lot of people and they have already. They’re destined to finish out the year undefeated and probably end up co-champs of the ACC."

The Trojans fell behind 34-0 in the first half, blitzed by Maryland quarterback Shaun Hill’s two touchdown passes and TD runs by Bruce Perry and Marc Riley.

Under first-year head coach Ralph Friedgen, the Maryland offense has been a balanced teeter-totter this season. Saturday was no different as Terps’ running backs rushed for 277 yards and Hill had 228 yards passing.

"You have to respect Coach Friedgen and his ability to coach offensive football," said Blakeney. "Maryland’s probably not the most talent-laden program, they’ve got some talent, but what really makes them good is their execution. That goes back to coaching."

Offensively, as was as the case in an earlier loss to Middle Tennessee, the Trojans struggled. Troy State had only 32 yards of total offense in the first half and -19 on the ground.

"We did not play well in the first half," said offensive coordinator John Shannon. "We didn’t get in sync. But at halftime we made some adjustments and played much better."

Troy State had 239 yards in the final two quarters of play and scored 14 points. Heyward Skipper and Eric Felton each had touchdown catches for the Trojans.

There were other highlights as well.

Sophomore Chris Day had his best game at wide receiver, hauling in seven catches for 102 yards.

Day was moved from the outside to an inside slot position last week in an effort, according to Shannon, to get "more speed on the inside."

"Chris stepped up," said Shannon. "Of course, he had a little cheat wrist band that he looked at so he’d run the right play, but he did good."

Shannon thinks Maryland was the first major college football team to actually prepare for Troy State as a Division 1-A school.

"They (Maryland) talked to Miami about what we did successfully against them," he said. "Unlike Miami, they didn’t give us a chance to stay in the football game early. I think that’s a tribute to Troy State and what we’ve done this season, against teams like Miami, Nebraska and Mississippi State, in that they treated us like we were for real. They played their number one players against us and when we started moving the ball on them in the second half they brought their number one players back in the ball game."

Linebacker Jimmy McClain agreed.

"Their performance showed us that they respected us and weren’t going to take us lightly. They knew we could play D-IA football," he said.

The Maryland defense also sacked quarterback Brock Nutter eight times for a loss of 72 yards. It was the second time this season, the Trojans’ offensive line has allowed eight sacks. The "Blackshirt" defense of Nebraska did so as well in the Cornhuskers 42-14 opening season win.

"Some of it’s offensive line, some of it’s coverage, some of it’s the quarterback trying to make a play," said Blakeney about the sack problems.

Shannon had an even simpler answer about the sacks allowed against Maryland.

"They (UM) were just better then us up front. They were more physical and more aggressive," he said.