Trojans head coach Larry Blakeney held his first press conference of the season at the Marriott Hotel Monday afternoon, addressing his team’s first game against the Bowling Green State University Falcons.
“We are going to do our best to put our best foot forward,” Blakeney said.
“We are not perfect, but we have been practicing for the last six months and are tired of it.
“Hopefully, we can get through these last couple days of final game preparation and be ready for what’s to come Thursday night,” the coach added.
This will be Troy’s first trip to Bowling Green, Ohio where they will face a Mid-American Conference (MAC) team for the first time since its 34-21 loss to Northern Illinois in the 2004 Silicon Valley Bowl.
Last season, Troy finished with an overall record of 8-5, and in the process, won its third straight Sun Belt Conference championship.
The Trojans fell to Southern Miss in last year’s New Orleans Bowl 30-27 in overtime.
Bowling Green, who finished with a record of 6-6 in 2008, brought in Dave Clawson during the offseason to take over as the head coach.
Clawson’s last head coaching job was at Richmond in 2007, during the same time that now Troy starting quarterback Levi Brown began his collegiate career.
“I haven’t spoken to [Coach Clawson] in about two years,” Brown said.
“I am anxious to and play regardless who we are playing. I maybe a little more anxious because of him though,” Brown added with a laugh.
One of Troy’s strategies against the Falcons, according to Blakeney, will be to get Trojans junior wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan the ball as much as possible.
“We have a lot of weapons on offense,” Blakeney said.
“We are going to have to be prepared to make adjustments and be ready to take advantage of opportunities.”
Jernigan led all Trojans receivers statistically last season with 77 catches for 868 yards and five touchdowns. One of the adjustments mentioned will have come in the defensive secondary, where sophomore, and first-year starter, KeJuan Phillips will be stepping in for senior Jorrick Calvin, who was deemed academically ineligible for the 2009 season.
“[The chance to play] is something that I have been waiting for since I got here,” Phillips said.
“I am going to have more opportunities to make plays and more responsibilities and that is something I think I am ready for.
Phillips played in 13 games last season and finished the season with one interception and three tackles.
“I know what’s going on, now I just have to put it on the field,” the cornerback said.
Phillips said he received some words of encouragement from former Trojan teammate Leodis McKelvin about starting.
The team will is entering the season with high expectations.
First the first time in the program’s history, the Trojans received one vote in both the AP and the ESPN/USA Today polls to start the season.
“There are more expectations then I can ever remember,” Blakeney said.
“Reality will set in once this game starts. The team understands that this is a controlled fight and that everything is important.”