Trojans start hitting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Troy State football players donned their full allotment of pads and equipment Wednesday for the first time this spring.

Day Three of the Troy State spring practice was marked by intensity and a bunch of excitement on the part of players and coaches alike as they players finally got a chance to knock someone around.

"I liked the intensity out here today and the excitement," Troy State head coach Larry Blakeney said. "The new coaches brought a bunch of intensity with them."

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Players slapped each other's heads and jumped and shouted when they made hits. The offense and defense squared off against each other in several different drills that gave the players many chances to light each other up.

Offense and defense split on the day. The offense managed to make some plays and the defense forced a few turnovers.

New offensive coordinator Mark Fleetwood was not impressed, though.

"We were sloppy," he said. "We had some fumbles and threw some interceptions. We even had trouble with the snap."

Quarterback Josh Russell fumbled two consecutive snaps from scrimmage during Wednesday's practice. Last season's starter Hansell Bearden looked impressive at times, but also threw a couple of interceptions.

One quarterback who was not expected to participate in spring drills took some snaps Wednesday. Matt Ray, who was injured most of last season, took some snaps in some non-contact drills.

Other returning Trojans included Freeman White and Rayshun Reed. Reed participated in non-contact drills, but White participated only in conditioning drills.

"Rayshun is able to plant and cut well," Blakeney said. "Freeman is not quite there, but he is ahead of schedule."

The Trojans will not practice today but will return to the field Friday. Troy State fans will get their first chance to see the new offense and defense Saturday in a scrimmage at Memorial Stadium.

"We've learned about 50 percent of the new systems and now we are implementing them," Blakeney said. "Now we've got some pictures of people running into each other and can have something to learn from."