Blakeney on loss to Duke: Team played ‘a little better’ but still ‘beat ourselves ‘
Published 4:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2014
By Devin Smith
Despite a tough 34-17 loss to the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday, the Trojans are improving and looking ahead, said head football coach Larry Blakeny.
“I think we played a little better and had a little more energy and emotion than in the season-opening loss to University of Alabama at Birmingham,” Blakeney said Monday. “You can’t play this game without that.”
The attitude of the team against the Blue Devils may have been the biggest difference in the team’s play from the first game to the second, and it was a factor that Blakeney stressed to his players all week leading up to the game.
“There’s a lot of people who have extended themselves dramatically on this field out here to win games over the years,” Blakeney said. “That’s where we are striving to get back to, and we started out with a pretty good team at home.”
Troy senior linebacker Mark Wilson knows that his team let a win get away from them against the Blue Devils.
“We beat ourselves,” Wilson said. “Everything they scored on, it was because of us. It was either a miss-read, miss-alignment, or a miss-fit.”
The Trojans began the Saturday’s game in full rhythm and were able to score on the opening drive following a deep strike from quarterback Brandon Silvers that positioned Troy just two yards from the end zone.
Following a Duke field goal Silvers once again drove the Trojans effortlessly down the field before finally scoring on the first play of the second half to give Troy a 14-3 lead.
Although he came out strong initially, Silvers realized that sustaining that production is something that he has to continue to work on.
“I got going a little in the first quarter, but I have to keep it all game,” Silvers said after Saturday’s game.
Troy’s second touchdown brought the Blue Devils offense to life, and the ACC Coastal champs were able to score 21-straight points courtesy of quarterback Anthony Boone. He would finish the game with 268 passing yards and another 56 rushing yards that included a total of three touchdowns, a performance that Blakeney said impressed him.
“He’s a good player,” Blakeney said. “I think he is a better runner than passer, really. He can do both. He’s good enough to win for them in the way they approach things.”
While Duke’s quarterback was in mid-season form their standout receiver Jamison Crowder was held in check for most of the evening by Trojan defense, and he would finish with just seven receptions for 70 yards without a score.
Troy would enter the half trailing 24-14 after failing to convert a fourth and short deep in Duke territory, which was a decision that in hindsight Blakeney may not have made. “If I could have envisioned that free safety running straight ahead and hitting our running back straight in the hole I wouldn’t have gone for it,” Blakeney said. “It gave them a chance to get up another score, we probably needed to punt that.”
After stalling on the opening drive of the second half the Trojans began to regain some momentum with a field goal to make the contest a one-possession game at 24-17.
The Blue Devils would quickly answer back with another touchdown run from Boone that ultimately was too much for Troy to overcome.
The showdown with the Wildcats this Saturday will not be an easy one, Blakeney said, despite the Division II school’s win-less record. Abilene Christian has lost its first two games by a combined seven points, which included a one-point loss to fellow Sun Belt member Georgia State to open the season.
“There are a lot of things that you can’t go to sleep at the switch with Abilene Christian, I can tell you that,” Blakeney said.
Abilene will look to air the ball out on a susceptible Trojan defense early and often. They are averaging 29 points a game and over 400 yards of total offense compared to 334 yards per game and just 13.5 points so far this year for the Trojans.
However, the majority of the skill for Abilene Christian may very well come from the defensive side of the ball. According to Troy offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield they have potential defensively that exceeds most teams the Trojans will face this season.
The Wildcats have great size throughout the defense and like to blitz extra men regularly, but have given up an average of 507 yards per contest this season.
Kickoff is 6 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy.