Trojans prepare for time away from football
While it may not have been the prettiest win, the Troy Trojans were able to keep their heads above water just long enough against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Saturday night’s 31-24 victory over the Ragin’ Cajuns was the Trojans third in-a-row and improved the team to 4-2 overall on the season and 3-0 in the Sun Belt play.
However, in that win, Troy turned the ball over five times, three of which were Corey Robinson interceptions, committed six penalties for 77 yards and had the ball almost 10 minutes less than ULL.
“We had a weird game,” head coach Larry Blakeney said to open the team’s press conference Monday afternoon. “I really don’t know how else to describe it.
“We knew we were going to get their best shot. We really did everything we could do to lose the game though with penalties and turnovers. I thought both defenses played hard making it hard for the offenses to do anything at all. We found a way to win even when we didn’t play at our best, when we didn’t play all that well.”
The win was the Trojans’ 13-straight conference win, and now, Troy will enter its bye week, before heading into its next game against the last Sun Belt foe to defeat them – Louisiana-Monroe.
“We got a lot of work to do, but I think this bye week is going to help,” the coach said. “We are going to give the guys time to heal, mixed in with some practice and then some time off this weekend. It might be good for them to get away from us, and for us to get away from them. We will meet back on Sunday and start prepping for what’s next.”
The coach mentioned that the upcoming week would also allow his team to get healthy from injuries sustained in the UUL game, most notably, starting quarterback Corey Robinson. Towards the end of the game, Robinson was hit and received what Blakeney called a “little concussion.”
“I don’t feel to hot,” the quarterback said Monday.
“I’m going to miss a little practice time this week (to get healthy). But I need to get a lot better. I think some people were making excuses for how I played on Saturday, but I’m not. I stunk the place up.”
Robinson finished 23-of-33 for 237 yards, three interceptions and a touchdown.
While the starting quarterback will be spending the next couple of days on the sidelines, his backups will be getting plenty of much needed reps.
At the beginning of the season, along with Robinson, the Trojans had Dantavious Parker, Jamie Hampton and Greg Jenkins at the quarterback position. As Troy enters the bye week, none of those quarterbacks are on the active roster, as Parker transferred, Hampton had a season-ending knee injury and Jenkins left the team as of Saturday.
But several old faces have come back for the Trojans, as Tanner Jones and Jonathan Chandler, who has been permanently moved from the wide receiver position to quarterback, are the new back ups.
“It’s like learning how to ride a bike again,” Chandler said. “I am just looking to feel contribute, just like Jamie (Hampton) did. Playing this position is just second nature for me.
“I told Tanner that it felt like it was 2006 all over again,” he laughed.
Chandler, who was a quarterback at Opelika High School, was moved over to his old position last Wednesday and even though he had only a few days to prepare, he made a big impact in the ULL game, thanks to 34-yard pass to Jason Bruce in the end zone on a trick play.
“It was a crazy play,” Chandler recalled. “It’s one we practice all the time, but for some reason it never goes quite the way we want it to.
“A lot of guys stepped up to make that play happen,” he added.
Along with the victory, the Trojan faithful had another reason to celebrate as. Besides scoring the game winning touchdown, senior wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan broke the school record for most catches in a career, on his third catch of the game.
On Monday, Jernigan was honored again, this time for his achievements in another phase of the game. The Sun Belt Conference selected Jernigan as the Special Teams Player of the Week for his 75-yard punt return against the Cajuns.
It was the senior’s first punt return for a touchdown in his career, and the first for a Trojan since 2007 when Leodis McKelvin accomplished the feat.
“I think their guy thought I was going to fair catch it,” Jernigan said about the return. “I caught the ball and side-stepped him and the return team pretty much had everything sealed off for me.
“I never know if I am going to the house but I do know that if I can make that first guy miss I will have a pretty good chance because I have a good bunch out there blocking for me.”