Trojans still class of Sun Belt
It did not take long for the Troy Trojans to show they are still the team to beat in the Sun Belt Tuesday night.
In front of a nationally televised audience, the Trojans traveled to Murfreesboro, Tenn. and did the same thing it has done countless times before when in the same position – win impressively.
While Middle Tennessee State University was picked to win the Sun Belt during the preseason, Troy showed it was unwilling to hand the conference over, as the Trojans cruised to a 42-13 win – claiming its 12-consecutive Sun Belt victory in the process.
“I was just like a lot of people coming into the game, I had a lot of questions about our team,” head coach Larry Blakeney said.
“We had to grow up and I think we did in the time off we had leading up to the game.”
The win improved Troy to 3-2 on the young season, and more importantly, 2-0 in conference play.
One of the biggest question marks surrounding the team was the Trojans’ inability to defend the ball in its four previous games.
However, Troy found all the answers against the Blue Raiders.
For a defense that allowed an average of 400 plus yards in the first quarter of the season, Troy held MTSU to just 207 yards on the night, and welcomed former suspended Blue Raider quarterback Dwight Dasher back by sacking him four teams, one of which dislocated his pinky finger on his left hand.
“Obviously, we had some guys that played really well for us (Tuesday night) in Jacoby Thomas and Kanorris Davis and that play injected some energy in our defense,” Blakeney said. “They made a lot of things happen for us.
“And because of that, the other guys, like Jonathan Massaquoi, Mario Addison, Xavier Lamb, Daniel Sheffield and Bryan Willis all fed off that energy and played hard. I was very proud with how our guys responded on defense. I thought we were aggressive and I thought (defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell) had a great plan going into the game to put pressure on (MTSU’s) quarterbacks. That’s how Troy plays defense and I think that game was a huge confidence builder for everyone.”
Dasher finished with 56 yards on the ground with two scores and threw for 172 yards.
While one quarterback was struggling, the other was flourishing.
Red shirt freshman Corey Robinson showed again why he was named the starter, as he added another 200-yard passing performance to his resume.
In five games thus far, Robinson has thrown for 1,503 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I don’t want to take anything away from the offense,” Blakeney said.
“I thought we played well everywhere offensively with the passing and running games. When you have the running backs we have, it makes things easier for Corey to do his job.
“Really, I thought we played well in all phases of the game for the first time this season. That’s something you have to do well, especially in this league.”
As a whole, the offense tallied up 519 yards, 59 of which came from senior wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan, who was coming off minor elbow surgery on Saturday.
“That was a courageous effort from Jerrel,” Blakeney said. “It takes a real team player to come off having your elbow opened up and to play just a few days later.”
The news was not all good for the Trojans however, as quarterback Jamie Hampton suffered his second season ending injury in three seasons when he broke two bones in his leg after a hit on an eight-yard carry early on in the second quarter.
“Jamie is one of the most unselfish guys I have ever had on a football team and all of his teammates know that, and they all love him. His injury is season ending. I am going to leave the door open for him to come back anytime to his football in any way he sees fit,” Blakeney said.