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Trojans aim for bounce back from rare conference loss

For the first time in two years, the Troy Trojans will be entering a Sun Belt game coming off a conference loss.

It was Louisiana-Monroe that once again downed the Trojans in Monroe on a Halloween weekend, by double-digits this time around.

“We had a tough outing, on the road,” head coach Larry Blakeney said, “and I sort of expected the welcome we got, but I thought we would respond to it a little bit better than we did.

“(ULM)) had a great plan. They coached well and they played well. You have to give (head coach) Todd Berry and his staff and his players the credit. We squandered some opportunities, had some penalties and had some tipped ball turnovers that could have gone the other way, but didn’t. We certainly have got a lot of room for improvement.”

Troy took an early lead, but was on able to hold it, as the Warhawks scored 14-unanswered points to go on to a 28-14 win.

The loss dropped the Trojans to 4-3 on the season, and 3-1 in conference.

And like it did two seasons before, Troy will be looking to bounce back in the hopes of securing its fifth-straight conference championship.

But it will have to do so away from the friendly confines of Veterans Memorial Stadium for a second-straight week.

The Trojans will head Denton, Texas, where it will face off against the 2-6 Mean Green of North Texas.

In the all-time series between the two teams, Troy leads 6-1, including a 2-1 record in Denton.

The only loss the Trojans have suffered to the Mean Green came back in 2003, when Troy was not part of the Sun Belt.

Since it joined the league in 2005, the Trojans are a perfect 5-0 against North Texas. This will be just the second game for Mike Canalas as interim head coach of the Mean Green since the team let go of former head coach Todd Dodge back on Oct. 20.

“We are getting ready to face North Texas which is probably the most physical approach teams we have in this league,” Blakeney said.

“That is especially the case since they made the change and their quarterbacks have been injured. They don’t throw it quite as much, but they are really coming off the ball and they have some run schemes that they can execute pretty well. They have the best running back in the league in Lance Dunbar and two other running backs who have scored long touchdowns for them. They have some strike power.”

A big reason for the loss to ULM came from the offensive production, or lack there of.

Against ULM, the Trojans only had 285 total yards of offense, which was the worst since the Dec. 2, 2006 when Florida International held Troy 298 total yards.

One of the main contributors for the Trojans before the drop off was quarterback Corey Robinson.

After averaging close to 300 yard in the first five games of the season, the red shirt freshman’s numbers have dropped to around an average of 200 yards per game, throwing five interceptions to just two touchdowns in the last two games.

“Every week from now on will be like that,” Robinson said about playing with a scene of urgency.

“It has always been that way, but there is much more of a feeling of urgency now since we went to Monroe and laid an egg. We have to come out ready to play every week and we have to go out ready to practice. The coaches are upset and we are too because no one likes to lose. We really have to get ready to go this week.”

On the opposite side of the ball, the Trojans will be going up against the conference’s leading rusher in Dunbar.

The junior running back has already rushed for 827 yards, and is coming off a season-high of 215 against Western Kentucky.

Last season against Troy, the then sophomore rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

“It was a wake-up call, defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi said about last week’s loss. “Being on top is always glorifying, but there are many people who are chasing you for that spot.

“It was an eye-opener. Luckily, everyone in the conference has a loss and we still have an opportunity to finish the season strong. That is where my mind-set is right now.

“We have to stand back up and keep moving. We have to go to North Texas and make that our main goal and focus. The past is the past and the way you get better is to learn from the past. When you do that it makes for a brighter and better future.”