Troy traveling to Athens, aiming to refocus team
Published 3:00 am Friday, September 19, 2014
By Devin Smith
In his 24 years as the head coach of the Troy Trojans there has been no shortage of success or broken records for Larry Blakeney and his football program.
This season Blakeney is in the midst of setting a different personal record after Troy began with three straight losses for the first time during his tenure at the school, and the Trojans face an uphill battle in Athens with the 13th ranked Georgia Bulldogs (1-1) on Saturday if they hope to avoid a 0-4 start.
“It’s scary watching Georgia on tape,” Blakeney said. “They are great on offense, rush the football about as good as anybody I’ve seen. You know what they’ve got over there and we’re going to have to play really good to stay in it.”
Georgia is coming off a loss of their own to the South Carolina Gamecocks last weekend, and coach Mark Richt understands the significance of the game to both programs involved.
“They’re a team that is desperate for a victory, I’m sure,” Richt said of Troy. “But we’re desperate for a victory as well, so it ought to be a great game.”
The game will mark the second time the Trojans have traveled to Athens.
Troy came close leaving with an upset over the Bulldogs in 2007 before ultimately losing the game 44-34.
For the Trojans to give themselves a chance to steal a win from Georgia, a lot of focus should be on what seemed to be a susceptible Bulldog secondary with Troy’s patented fast-break style passing offense.
The effectiveness of that strategy will weigh heavily on whether or not redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Silvers will be able to suit up after suffering a concussion in the third quarter of the loss to Abilene Christian.
“Silvers is improving and I hope that he will recover in time to play, if not against Georgia, then for the conference season,” Blakeney said.
The meeting with the Bulldogs will be the final non-conference game for Troy before they begin an eight-game Sun Belt gauntlet with Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 27.
If Silvers can’t go, Blakeney is prepared to put the offense in the hands of junior college transfer Dontreal Pruitt, who proved he was more than capable to lead an offense last season at East Mississippi by leading his team to an undefeated season and the NJCAA National Championship.
“If he can throw in rhythm he really has a good throwing stroke and hit what he’s looking at,” Blakeney said. “And even though he can really run fast, he’s not a real runner. He’s not going to just stick it up in there, first flash he is going to make a move.”
Troy was also without senior linebacker Wayland Coleman-Dancer last week, who had knee surgery on Tuesday.
This isn’t the first time Coleman-Dancer has received the treatment, and Blakeney doesn’t expect it to prevent him from playing for very long.
“I wouldn’t dare say that Wayland would play as good as he could play, but he would probably try to play,” Blakeney said. “Him at 90 percent may be as good as another guy at a little more percent just based on experience.”
The Bulldogs and running back Todd Gurley are sure to take note of Coleman-Dancer’s absence and Troy’s porous run defense, while the Bulldogs are already averaging 272.5 yards per game on the ground against ranked teams.
Kickoff from between the hedges is set for noon, and the game can be watched on the SEC Network.