Trojans try for two-straight

Published 3:00 am Friday, October 17, 2014

By Sean Holohan

Winning breeds winning, so the old saying goes.

Troy football finally got off the schneid last week after an impressive 41-24 homecoming victory over Sun Belt Conference foe New Mexico State, earning their first win overall this season and in conference play.

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The win surely gives the team momentum going into their conference matchup with Appalachian State Saturday.

But Monday morning, head coach Larry Blakeney insisted the Mountaineers will be a touch matchup for the Trojans, and his team should take nothing for granted, regardless of their win last Saturday.

“That (the win) doesn’t mean anything about the upcoming game,” Blakeney said Monday at his weekly press conference. “Certainly (Appalachian State head coach) Scott Satterfield and Appalachian State are a good enough football team to beat Troy. I hope we are a good enough football team to beat them.”

Troy comes into Saturday’s matchup off of an explosive offensive showing in their win last week against NMSU. The Trojans put up 571 yards of total offense on the Aggies, highlighted by 360 yards on the ground.

Troy junior running back Brandon Burks had a career day with 176 rushing yards on just 10 carries. Burks’s 17.6 yards-per-carry average was the second highest in school history.

“Obviously we felt like we could run the football on them,” Blakeney said. “(Brandon) Burks got us off to a good start and dang quarterback (Brandon Silvers) carried it 20 times in the course of the game.”

Coming off a loss last week to FCS team Liberty, Appalachian State enters the game with an overall record of 1-5 and 0-2 in the Sun Belt.

The Mountaineers have been outscored 81-35 in their two conference losses to Georgia Southern and South Alabama.

The Trojans will look to have a similar offensive performance against the Appalachian State defense, which has allowed an average of 34.8 ppg up to this point in the season.

But defensive struggles aside, the Appalachian State offense is ranked in the top-half of the country in rushing and passing yardage per game. The Mountaineers are scoring 30.5 ppg, led by freshman quarterback Taylor Lamb, who has thrown for 1,232 yards and eight TDs this season.

Troy defensive ends Jamal Stadom and Tyler Roberts combined for four sacks and two forced fumbles last week against NMSU. Stadom’s efforts earned him Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The Trojan defense will have to play up to that level again this week as they face a high-scoring, dynamic Mountaineer offense.

“I’ve seen this team (Appalachian State) in all three phases of the game and they are very capable,” Blakeney said. “Their quarterback is a young guy but can really throw the football and they are a big, vertical offensive team throwing the ball down the field.”

But Blakeney thinks Appalachian State’s 3-4 defense has some weaknesses up front the Trojans can take advantage of in the running game.

The Trojans are averaging 141 rushing yards a game, and Blakeney will look to establish the run early against the Mountaineers to give freshman quarterback Brandon Silvers some throwing room to work with, some running room of his own, to work with.

“Their defense is a 3-4, which gives you a chance to be heavy rush or heavy cover with a couple of steps,” Blakeney said. “They have some capability to the skies and you have to adjust after the ball turns over.”

If winning truly does breed wining, then Troy’s future is bright looking ahead to the remainder of the year.

Heading into the second half of their season, Troy’s opponents have a combined record of 13-23, as opposed to the brutal 24-15 combined record of the first half.

With steep non-conference games now out of the way, the Trojans still have a chance to finish Larry Blakeney’s final season in a bowl game.

But that will have to start with a victory Saturday against the Mountaineers.

Saturday’s matchup is set to kickoff at 2:04 p.m. central

It will air on ESPN3.