‘Nobody is happy’: Blakeney, Hartwell respond to Trojans’ disappointing 0-3 start

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, September 16, 2014


No. 32 for the Trojans, Josh Shelton carries the ball during the game against Abilene Christian Saturday evening. MESSENGER PHOTO/JOEY MEREDITH

No. 32 for the Trojans, Josh Shelton carries the ball during the game against Abilene Christian Saturday evening.

By Devin Smith

With a 0-3 start to the season, Troy football coaches, players and fans aren’t happy.

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“There are plenty of excuses we could make, but I know none of you guys will buy them,” head coach Larry Blakeney said Monday. “We got beat, beaten by a good, well-coached team that I believe can beat anyone in the Sun Belt Conference … I’m not an excuse guy. If you want an excuse, you probably need to go somewhere else.

“All I know is that I’m not happy, the kids ain’t happy, nobody that cares about Troy is happy,” head coach Larry Blakeney said during his weekly press conference on Monday. “We have to deal with as we move forward and try to rectify. The team that we’re playing this week probably isn’t a good team to think about rectifying.”

The Trojans are coming off a disappointing 38-35 loss to Abilene Christian on Saturday and heading to face SEC powerhouse Georgia in Athens.

The rocky start to the season has brought out critics of both Blakeney and the Troy program, prompting Athletic Director John Hartwell to send a message to the fan base on Monday.

“If there’s a message to our fan base out there it’s ‘hey in times like this everybody’s got to stick together and have faith and belief in the leadership and what we’re trying to do is working to get better and win on a consistent basis,’” Hartwell said, adding that he has full confidence the team will continue to get better.

And, he said, he has full confidence in Blakeney, who is in his 24th season as head coach.

“Larry didn’t all of a sudden forget to how to coach over night,” Hartwell said. “The guy has won a whole bunch of football games and the guys on his staff have helped him win a bunch of football games.”

Blakeney’s record at the beginning of the season was 175-104-1, including 15 winning seasons and, since joining the Sun Belt conference in 2004, five conference crowns and five bowl games.

“And, we’ve got some very talented young me playing on our football team and as you heard some of the interviews today those guys are hurting too,” Hartwell said. “It’s not a time to say woe is me … it’s a time to focus that energy and say dammit, what can I do to get better, what can I do to help this team win?’”

Georgia is coming off its first loss of the season at the hands of No. 13 South Carolina Gamecocks, and that could make for an angry and motivated pack of Bulldogs this weekend.

Led by Heisman candidate Todd Gurley, the Bulldogs are averaging over 433 yards of offense with more than half of those yards coming from the ground game, an area that the Trojans defense has struggled with this season.

Blakeney said though some may compare Gurley former Bulldog named Knowshon Moreno, he sees a different comparison.

“This one (Gurley) is comparable to the one everyone talks about, Herschel (Walker),” Blakeney said. “He is a different style runner, but he is big and powerful and sees everything. Herschel was more in-and-out, circle because he was so fast. This guy, he looks backside. Usually those big linemen give him a place to run, too.”

A big part of whether or not the Trojans will be able compete with the Bulldogs will the mindset they take between the hedges this Saturday.

Blakeney said he hopes his players can use the adversity to bring themselves together and right the ship.

“The thing that we have to sell them on is if they’re hurting, you don’t go outside, you go internal,” Blakeney said. “You embrace the guys you know that you can trust. You embrace each other. You try and find strength from each other.”

Blakeney said he expects from his Trojans the same things that he has for nearly a quarter-century.

“If you’re a competitor, which I think we have a group of guys that are, you will go to the practice field and the game field approaching it in a way to win for yourself, for your team, for your family, your Troy family, whoever. If we don’t have those kind of people we will be in trouble,” Blakeney said.