Trojans set sights on Jaguars

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, October 21, 2014

By Sean Holohan

Coming off of a 53-14 beatdown loss at the hands of Appalachian State Saturday, the Troy Trojans and head coach Larry Blakeney were left to lick their wounds and wonder what exactly went wrong against the Mountaineers while speaking at the Trojans’ weekly press conference on Monday.

“In retrospect, there were probably some excuses along the way, but not enough excuse to understand getting shellacked like that at home by a team that also had one win,” Blakeney said Monday. “But they got us.”

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Whatever the answers may be, Troy must be prepared to move on quickly from the loss as they turn their attention to a matchup with conference foe South Alabama on Friday.

Monday morning, Blakeney lamented the Trojans’ poor showing against App. St., and he insisted that the Jaguars of South Alabama are as formidable an opponent as his team will face all season.

And the short workweek won’t make it any easier coming off of a tough loss.

“This ain’t no great week either,” Blakeney said. “You’re looking at 61 juniors and seniors on the (South Alabama) football team. That’s high numbers for experience. We started preparation yesterday; we had to move it up because we’re playing on Friday night. I don’t particularly like playing on Friday night, but everybody knows TV rules in college football.”

For a sputtering Troy offense, a quick turnaround means the Trojans will need all hands on deck to prepare for a South Alabama defense that is ranked 42nd in the nation in points allowed. To make matters worse, injuries are piling up for the Trojans’ receiving corp.

Wide receivers Teddy Ruben, Andre Flakes and John Johnson were hobbled Saturday against the Mountaineers. While Ruben may be OK to play Friday, Blakeney said it is likely Johnson and Flakes will be ruled out with a hip pointer and shoulder injury, respectively.

The injuries are only piling on to a Troy team that is struggling already with its confidence, Blakeney said.

“We question ourselves as coaches and I’m sure the players question themselves, so it’s a situation you have to find a way to work through.”

The Trojans will face South Alabama Friday in a matchup that is being considered a budding rivalry, fueled by Troy’s dramatic 34-33 comeback victory last year, and Troy players are expecting a hostile environment in Mobile.

“It’s going to be a tough fight, the rivalry is growing more and more each year,” senior wide receiver Chandler Worthy said. “We know that they’re going to come out to play, especially since they felt like they had it last year and gave it away. We have to come out ready to play. This team wants to beat us and beat us bad. They want to kick us while we’re down. In about two or three more years it is going to be our number one rivalry.”

If there is any room for silver linings for Troy, the Trojans are 2-0 all time against South Alabama, and a win against the Jaguars would keep the Trojans bowl eligible.

But Blakeney had a more simplistic view on his team Monday.

“We’re still a work in progress and we’re trying to find a way to win a game, he said. “We’ve got to compete better; we’ve got to give them (the players) better plans, coach better. Hopefully we’ll find a way to give them a chance to experience singing a fight song again. That’s my favorite time.”