Trojans look to spear Hogs

Published 11:15 pm Friday, November 13, 2009

For the first time since September, the Troy Trojans will be taking a step out of Sun Belt Conference play this afternoon.

However, in doing so, the Trojans will be facing a tough opponent in, what many believe is the nation’s best conference.

In their second meeting since the 2007 season, Troy will take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark.

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The last time these two teams met, the Razorback put nearly 50 points on the board, as two current NFL running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown and 131 yards and a touchdown in an 46-26 Arkansas victory.

The Trojans come into the game boasting a 7-2 overall record and are currently riding a seven-game winning streak, the team’s longest since 1995.

Arkansas is currently 5-4 and coming off a win over a ranked South Carolina team.

Still, even going against a quality SEC foe, head coach Larry Blakeney believes the Trojans have a chance to pull of the upset.

“We are optimistic about the [Saturday’s game],” Blakeney said.

“We are going to need to put our best foot forward for it though – they are pretty dog-gone good.”

The timing of an out of conference game this late in the season is one that may catch some off guard, yet Blakeney said he and his team are going to do what they can to stay focused and get a win.

“I don’t know if it’s ever a good time to play an SEC team,” he said.

“If you saw what I have seen so far this season from them, they can do anything on offense. They beat a good South Carolina team last weekend, they have a proven football coach and are doing some good things across the board.

“Timing right now is as good for us as any time,” the coach added. The timing of his game also has a little big of history to it.

Troy is 4-4 all-time when paying games on Nov. 14, and 1-1 overall with Blakeney as head coach.

If the Trojans want to improve that record, the defense will have to try and find a way to contain Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet.

Thanks to Mallet’s 2,477 passing yards this season, the Razorbacks are leading the SEC in the category.

“[Mallet] is extremely elusive,” Blakeney said.

“He can move pretty well and can throw the football on the move pretty well, so we are going to need to find a way to contain him.”

The red-shirt sophomore has completed 152 of his 364 passes and has thrown for 18 touchdowns, opposed to just three interceptions.

“We have to be very careful,” defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell said.

“They run an NFL style of offensive, which is something we really don’t see too much in our conference.

“They make teams have to work and adjust differently,” he added.

Mallet’s counterpart, Troy quarterback Levi Brown is also having a good season and will be key for a victory.

So far this season, the senior has completed 64.7 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,777 yards, 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.

“We are looking forward to this game,” Brown said.