Trojans ready for Antonio Andrews, Hilltopper offense

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, October 23, 2013

By Danielle Percival 

The Troy Trojans defense will be taking on one of their toughest challenges of the year facing one of the nation’s best in the backfield this weekend.

Antonio Andrews, running back for the Hilltoppers, is the nation’s leading rusher with 1,036 yards on the ground this season.

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He became the first running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season in Western Kentucky’s last outing against Louisiana-Lafayette.

“I like these types of games where we know he’s going to run the ball so all we’ve got to do is stop the run,” defensive tackle Shermane TeArt said.

Stopping the run is something the Trojan defense can take pride in ranking 39th in the country in rushing defense.

“We have to stop him before he gets going,” linebacker Mark Wilson said.

But don’t think Andrews only gets it done on the ground; he’s a jack-of-all-trades on the field.

“He catches it, he runs it, he returns punts, he returns kickoffs,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “I wouldn’t be shocked to see him up there selling tickets.”

Andrews is a senior and has seen time in a variety of roles for the Hilltoppers, but his biggest impact has been at running back.

“The biggest thing is he makes great cuts,” Wilson said. “He’s got great vision. He’s a big, shifty guy.”

“They made great use of his talents the whole time he’s been there,” Blakeney said. “Even when [Bobby] Rainey was the tailback, he was doing other stuff and learning and backing up.”

As good as Andrews is, it may seem surprising that the Hilltoppers have lost three games so far, but when there have been 12 interceptions thrown by quarterback Brandon Doughty, the good and bad start to equal out.

Ten of the 12 interceptions Doughty has thrown this season have come in the Hilltoppers three losses.

“Once we get him a little nervous back there then get him throwing bad throws and hopefully throw us a couple balls,” TeArt said.

“They have been a mistake football team but at the same time when they haven’t, they’ve been very good,” defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt said.

Though Doughty is known for giving up the ball, he has completed 68 percent of his passes this season.

“You’ve got to try to get pressure to him, make him hurry and make him uncomfortable, if you can,” Blakeney said. “If you can’t, he’s probably gonna cut you up.”

Bobby Petrino, head coach of the Hilltoppers, is 2-0 against the Trojans with both victories coming from his years at Arkansas.

The Trojans and the Hilltoppers will square off Saturday afternoon with kickoff at 3 p.m. in Bowling Green, Ky.