Trojans aim to upset Gamecocks

Published 8:47 pm Friday, November 19, 2010

It is never easy to deal with a tough home loss.

And it is even harder to bounce back on the road against one of the country’s top teams.

But that is the task at hand this week for the Troy Trojans, as the team steps out of conference play for the last time in the regular season today against the SEC East Champion, South Carolina Gamecocks.

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Troy, who enters the game coming off its first conference home loss since 2007, is 5-4 overall, and 4-2 in Sun Belt play.

The 17th-ranked Gamecocks are the first ranked opponent the Trojans have seen this season, and enter with a 7-3 overall record.

This is the Trojans third trip up to Columbia, SC., with the previous two meetings ending in Gamecock victories.

The last time Troy made the trip, South Carolina put up 45 points, as it cruised to a double-digit victory, 45-20.

Before that game, South Carolina again won easily, 17-7.

In 12 games against SEC opponents, Troy is just 1-11, with its only win coming back in the 2001 season against Mississippi State.

Now, the Trojans will hope to bounce back in a big way.

“It is an exciting place to play and we will certainly find a good football team when we get there,” head coach Larry Blakeney said.

“I have seen the tape on them and they are pretty simple offensively, but they are good. They are going to line up and give you a formation and then call the play from the sideline. They will force you to lineup quick and then they will sit there and hold it.”

Leading the way for the Gamecocks is old ball coach himself, Steve Suppier.

“Steve is a great football coach and a great offensive schemer,” Blakeney said. “I can look at the tape of them and see things that he has been doing for years. They are still good.”

The East crown, which was clinched after last week’s 36-14 win over Florida, was the first for South Carolina since Suppier came on board six seasons ago.

And with that in mind, the Trojans are hoping they are catching the Gamecocks at the right time.

After Saturday’s game, South Carolina will take on bitter-rival Clemson on the road and then head to Atlanta for a chance to win the SEC Championship and earn a berth to a BCS game with its rematch against Auburn.

“We are catching them at a great time,” Blakeney said. “You couldn’t catch them at a better time, but they are catching us at a good time too. “We just lost to FIU and our next game is another conference game that we have got to win. Between Florida, which was a big game for them to win the east, and Clemson, and with the championship game looming out there, I could see how they might be distracted a little big. I hope they are really distracted.”

One of the areas where the Trojans will have had to improve upon during the past week is the defense.

Against FIU last Saturday, Troy gave up a season-high 668 yards, 448 of which came on the ground.

The 52 points allowed were also a season-high and the most allowed by a Larry Blakeney coached team.

The 31 Golden Panther points in the second quarter were the most scored on Troy in the program’s history.

Against Florida last week, the Gamecocks finished with nearly 400 total yards, with 239 coming on the ground.

“They have a great running back (Marcus Lattimore), and the quarterback (Stephen Garcia), I think, is good,” Blanekey said.

“I’ve watched both sides of that tape and they had the game in hand. When they put the young guy in, there was not a lot of drop off. He can play and run and throw it. I don’t know how he will approach us. We’ve got to learn how to play for 60 minutes and play assignment football. We have to take care of the football and continue to kick it well, hopefully, and see if we can’t get better.”

Leading the charge for the Trojans offensively is senior wide out Jerrel Jerigan.

After breaking the last of remaining records to claim, the conference record for most receptions and the school record for career receiving yards, Jerigan is now focused on helping his team get another big win.

“It is an SEC school and it is a big game for us,” he said. “We want to play well and try to get a win against a big, BCS school. Some weeks they have played like a million bucks, but some weeks they have a bad game. Hopefully, we can catch them on one of those bad games.”

Today’s game will be televised on the SEC Network, with a kick-off set for 11:21 a.m. central time.