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Troy opens with Cal Poly

Playing the Cal Poly Mustangs is like starting the season against a knuckleball pitcher.

The Mustangs, Troy University's opponent in the season opener Saturday night at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium, present unconventional challenges on both sides of the football.

&uot;They certainly won't help get us ready for the next game,&uot; Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. &uot;But the more you look at Cal Poly, the more you find out how problematic they are.&uot;

Defensively, the Mustangs go with a three-man front, but put two standup linebackers on the line of scrimmage who will either pull back immediately or blitz.

Offensively, they show an option game, but like to throw out of it - and they can throw it deep.

&uot;At the same time, given the opportunity, they've run the clock on their opponents,&uot; Blakeney said. &uot;They use some no-huddle at times. It's kind of a unique approach.&uot;

The Trojans have an interesting mix of newcomers who must replace a tremendous senior class. Only three starters return on offense and four are back on defense.

But those returning starters are solid and there is talent among the newcomers.

&uot;We're growing together,&uot; Blakeney said. &uot;We're not there yet. But there's no way you can get there without playing somebody else.&uot;

That starts Saturday night at 6 p.m. From a senior returning starter like cornerback Johnny Faulk to a freshman tight end like Larry Johnson, the Trojans are eager to start the season at home.

&uot;I've been waiting for the 2005 season for two years,&uot; Faulk said. &uot;We're ready to get it started. It's good to be at home because the average fan had to travel so far to see us the last few years.&uot;

&uot;This is my first college football game,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;They've told me the fans are very supportive around here. We're ready to play.&uot;

Defensive tackle Torre Lankford said the Trojan defense must be patient with the unconventional attack of the Mustangs.

&uot;They play a spread offense,&uot; Lankford said. &uot;Three wide receiver sets a lot. The backfield is different. They put the fullback shallow in the backfield and line the running back up like a wing - then put him in motion before the snap. They use a lot of motion, a lot of draws, screens, quick passes.&uot;

&uot;We'll have to stay back a little longer because they pass out of the option a lot,&uot; Faulk said.