Column: Pain of loss is self-inflicted for Trojans

Published 10:40 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2011

While many Troy fans are searching for answers after the Trojans 23-20 overtime loss to Florida International on national television, coaches and players watching the tape are seeing the only ones to blame are themselves.

Troy’s defensive game plan for two quarters was as solid as they have had all year. The Trojans keep the Panther playmakers in front of them not allowing the big play. Then, like unexpected pop of a balloon, FIU scored twice on plays of 76 and 43 yards in the third quarter.

Looking back at the two plays that scored 14 of the Panthers 23 points, it is painfully clear that Troy aided more in the touchdowns being scored that they did in the prevention of them. Michael Taylor’s two missed kicks will be looked at as the scapegoat for this loss but Troy’s defense did their part as well.

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The collapse happened on a 76-yard pass from Panther quarterback Wesley Carroll to Wayne Times. While most of the attention given to FIU this season has been because of receiver T.Y. Hilton, Times is just as dangerous. On this particular play, the Panthers split two receivers each way and Troy ran a stunt with defensive end John Robles dropping back into the flats and the only safety on the play, LaDarrius Madden, helping to double Hilton on the opposite side of the field. This left linebacker Brannon Bryan one-on-one with Times, who ran a corner route to the sideline and, without and help deep, easily outran Bryan to the endzone.

Nothing personal against Bryan but not at any point is a Bryan vs. Times one-on-one matchup going to work out well for Troy.

The second touchdown was more of an individual error with the same root issue of having no safety help.

On a third down and 21 from the Troy 43-yard line, Carroll was pressured out of the pocket. This time Times, who was lined up in the slot again, ran a post behind cornerback D.J. Jones who looked to have flats responsibility. Safety Camren Hudson, picked up Times as he should have leaving corner Chris Pickett to stay with wideout Jacob Younger running a fly route.

As Carroll rolled out of the pocket to Pickett’s side of the field, the Troy corner broke off coverage and stepped up to stop the run


In the video, linebacker Jacoby Thomas and Jones clearly had an angle to stop Carroll short of a first down.

The absent-minded mistake led to an FIU touchdown as Carroll simply flipped the ball over Pickett’s head and into the open (by 15 yards) arms of Younger.

The score would give the Panthers a 17-7 lead.

Granted, the Trojans would regain the lead thanks to a fumble return for a score and a Shawn Southward rushing touchdown but Taylor’s missed extra point and overtime field goal sealed Troy’s fate.

Four plays beat Troy.

Give Florida International credit, they took advantage of Troy’s mistakes but when you’ve won five consecutive conference titles, more is expected on national television that busted coverages and missed extra points.