Troy faces tough Sun Belt opener

Published 3:00 am Friday, September 26, 2014

By Devin Smith

After an 0-4 start to the season, the Troy football program seeks to start fresh as conference play opens, but following through will be difficult for the Trojans.

The first taste of Sun Belt competition won’t be any easier than the tough non-conference schedule – which included SEC powerhouse Georgia – as the Trojans head into a hostile environment against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks on Saturday.

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Coach Larry Blakeney considers the Warhawks to be one of the better teams in the conference and said this could be a great situation to get his team back on the right track.

“It would be some great medicine for this team to go to ULM and win on the road against a good, well-coached team,” Blakeney said.

In recent years securing a win against Louisiana-Monroe has been a tall order for the Trojans, who have only won once in the last five meetings.

If Troy wants to leave with a victory on Saturday they are going to have to find a way to penetrate the Warhawks defense, which currently ranks at the top of the Sun Belt in several key catagories.

“Their movement is problematic,” Blakeney said. “They know where they want to wind up, but they will show you a lot of stuff in pre-snap and standing up, moving around, cross charges, twists, etc., but they are still going to be in gap control when the ball turns over.”

The Trojans have been uncharacteristically stagnant moving the ball this year, and their 325.2 yards average of total offense ranks right behind ULM for last in the conference.

The combination of the swarming Warhawks defense and the lack of production for the Trojan offense does not bode well for Troy, but offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield is confident him squad can find cracks in their armor.

“They’re not very complicated,” Edenfield said. “They’re going to try to bring pressure on you from different places and confuse you. You know what they’re going to do, you just have to execute against it.”

Lack of execution has been a point of emphasis for Troy in recent weeks, and it is something that the coaching staff is still searching for ways to fix.

Although there may be a little extra motivation for the Trojans following a shutout to Georgia last week, the expectations of themselves is the same as it was before the season began.

“We have the same motivation every week,” Edenfield said. “We’re trying to do our job, we’re trying to put guys in a position to make plays, we’re trying to move the football. There are a lot of moving parts, and we haven’t done a good enough job getting that done.”

Kickoff will be at 6 p.m. central time, and will be broadcasted on both the Sun Belt Conference Network and ESPN3.