Palladium battle

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 5, 2009

Tonight, the newest installment of the “Battle for the Palladium Trophy” will take place in the Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium.

While most eyes will be set on the trophy itself, there is also another addition to the rivalry between Troy (2-2) and Middle Tennessee State (3-1) – current Blue Raiders offensive coordinator, and former Trojans’ offensive coordinator, Tony Franklin.

“Tony is a friend and a great football coach,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said.

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“He knows how to coach the ball – but we feel like we have the same situation here [with offensive coordinator Neal Brown].”

When Franklin arrived at Troy in 2006, he brought Brown in as the team’s wide receiver coach.

After Franklin’s departure to Auburn following the 2007 season, Brown was replaced as the offensive coordinator.

“It is going to be an interesting element [to the game],” Blakeney said.

“Both offenses are pretty similar – it won’t take long for see those similarities.

“It’s a big game, everyone is going to try and put their best foot forward,” the coach added.

Even though Brown is going up against his former mentor, he still views the game between the rivals as just another game.

“It has been two full years since Tony left, so the offenses are going not going to be carbon copies of one another.

“I have changed some things to the office just as I’m sure Tony has done. I’m just glad our offense has come back from the dead,” the coordinator said about the Trojans’ recent offensive struggles.

In the first two weeks of the season, the Trojans could not find the end zone, scoring just 20 points.

However, since then, the Trojans have scored 57 combined points – both of which resulted in victories.

After dropping to Clemson in its season opener, MTSU has been on a hot streak as of late, winning its last three games including Memphis and road trips at Memphis and North Texas.

“[MTSU] is a tough team,” Blakeney said.

“They are always highly motivated and well prepared and we don’t expect that to change come Tuesday.

“We have got to match that effort across the board to get a chance to win the game,” the coach added.

The series between the two teams, which began in 1936, has been lopsided as of late as the Trojans have won the last three meetings.

However, the Blue Raiders lead overall series, 11-5.

“We’re going to try and put wins together back-to-back against Middle Tennessee,” Blakeney said.

“The game is here and it is on national television, but they have beaten some pretty good teams in Memphis and Maryland and of course North Texas in the league.”

Offensively speaking, both teams are fairly even.

While MTSU has the statistical advantage over Troy, it’s not by much.

The Blue Raiders have averaged around 407 yards per game, while the Trojans have averaged a little over 375 per game.

The Blue Raiders have also averaged more points so far this season than the Trojans with a 28.5 average over a 19.3 average.

The Blue Raider offense is one that Troy senior linebackers Boris Lee and Bear Woods say they are ready for.

“We have been talking about it ever since we found out he went here,” Lee said.

“[Franklin] is an amazing offensive coordinator. He’s like a mad scientist. He’s someone you don’t want to go against every week.

“It’s something you have to prepare for, and you have to prepare better than you’ve been preparing,” the senior added. “We know he has something up his sleeve and he’s going to come and show up and have Middle Tennessee ready.”

Lee is currently leading the Trojans in tackles with 27, with Woods not far behind despite missing the first two games of the season with 11.

“This game is something special,” Woods said about playing for the Palladium Trophy. “This is what college football is all about.”

The two teams will meet under the lights at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium tomorrow in front of a national televised audience.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with the game being broadcasted on ESPN 2 at the same time.