Trojans looking for answers offensively

Published 9:52 pm Monday, October 31, 2011

Troy Trojan fans must feel as if they’re in a different universe at 2-5.

Understandably so, the team has reached five wins quicker than five losses every year since 2002 and only once before then under head coach Larry Blakeney have the men in cardinal and black stood at 2-5 during a season (1997).

Troy, currently on a three game skid, has not lost four in a row since a brutal stretch in 2006 in which the team fell to Florida State, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, and UAB in consecutive weeks.

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The questions surrounding this year’s squad is the offensive production, or lack there of, from a team that averaged over 31 points during its run of five consecutive Sun Belt titles. In 2011, the team is sputtering out an average of 22 points. Not nearly enough when your defense is surrendering 33 per contest.

The Trojans have dealt with leaky defenses before and won. Go back to 2009, the school’s best season at the Division I level with a 9-4 mark. That team allowed 29 points per game and still won nine ballgames.

According to Blakeney, the issue today is not the players themselves, it’s their lack of experience.

Players like true freshman Chandler Worthy and B.J. Chitty have been forced into a role that they might not normally see until their junior seasons.

“Some of these guys barely know where all the building on campus are” Blakeney said of his receivers youth. “And here we are we expect him to go win games for us.”

Corey Robinson’s outstanding freshman season can be attributed mostly to a very talented group of receivers. Not taking anything away from Robinson, he was the one delivering the ball to Jerrel Jernigan, Chip Reeves, Jason Bruce, and Tabiarus Gill but they knew how to find open space against D-I secondaries.

Looking at this year’s crop through seven games, many have only seven games of career experience.

Losing Reeves and Jamel Johnson was no doubt a blow to the potential production of this year’s team.

In 2010, the Trojans statistically placed four receivers in the top 15 in the Sun Belt and six in the top 38 in the category of receiving yards.

Thus far this season, only one, Eric Thomas, is in the top 20.

“We are searching for guys to make plays,” Blakeney said. “If you look (at the receivers at Troy last year), we had five guys that furnished great production for us last year and they ain’t here.”

The Trojans will have a great opportunity this week to get back on track offensively. Navy’s defense has been susceptible to the pass all season.

In the Midshipmen’s last four games opposing quarterbacks have thrown for 1,204 yards and nine touchdowns.

Troy is currently 23rd in the county in passing yards with 286 per game. Navy ranks 69th in pass defense allowing 230 per contest.

Before Troy can reassert themselves as an offensive power in the Sun Belt, they must see Robinson’s games improve.

The sophomore is fifth in the league in quarterback rating. He led the Sun Belt last season.

With a banged up offensive line, could frustration be setting in for the young signal caller?

“I’m sure he is,” Blakeney said. “He’s been beat up a little bit more, hit more, sacked more.”

With only five games remaining on Troy’s slate, Blakeney feels finding chemistry between quarterback and receivers will be vital to the Trojans success the rest of the way.

“I know they’ve been through camp and been through these games but there is still a measure of chemistry that makes it (winning) happen.”