Growing pains: Troy receivers gaining experience during season
Published 3:00 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016
The young Troy receivers are still working to find consistency heading into week five against Idaho.
The Trojans entered the season light when it came to playing experience. Troy native John Johnson, Deondre Douglas, Ismail Saleem and Emmanuel Thompson were the only players at the position that had seen substantial time with the offense.
Since then, former running back Andre Flakes has moved to receiver and Sidney Davis, Hiram Velez and Tavaris McCormick have started to make an impact.
In week one against Austin Peay, 10 different receivers touched the ball, gaining 323 yards and three touchdowns. In week two, Troy earned 245 receiving yards and two touchdowns against one of the nation’s top defenses in Clemson.
In week three against the Eagles, the Trojans receivers struggled. They combined for just 123 yards and only Thompson finished with more than one reception.
“Our passing game was not existent,” said Trojans head coach Neal Brown. “Our quarterbacks and our receivers must play better. I was not pleased with how we performed at those positions.”
“Coach Brown is always harder on them than anybody, being a former receiver himself,” said Troy offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield. “I did think against Southern Miss we didn’t get open enough. We were not detailed enough in our route running. We had some drops as a group overall inside and out.”
On Saturday, the receivers got back on track. Troy tallied 27 total catches by 12 different players for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought this past week we did a much better job of being detailed-oriented, and I think we had one drop all night,” Edenfield said. “That is a big improvement. We work on it constantly; if you have been at practice, we have tennis balls going on. It’s just a steady thing that we continue to work on.”
Thompson led the way for the Trojans with eight catches for 77 yards and one touchdown.
“One thing with the leadership role is you can’t make a lot of minor mistakes because a lot of the younger guys are looking up to you,” Thompson said. “Basically (it) puts more force on you to do everything right, do all the small things correctly. He’s doing it, so I can do it.”
Even though Thompson is joined by new faces, the job remains the same: to prepare and get better.
“I’ve taken it upon myself to get them up to date,” he said. “I have to make sure we go throughout the week, execute everything. The coaches give us the game plan, and just make sure they’re doing their job.”
Thompson’s younger teammates have taken notice of his leadership.
“He was kind of on us more when he was injured,” Davis said. “Now, he’s back, and I’m glad he’s back. He’s been making big plays for us this season. I think he brings quite a good leadership role. He stays on us. He’s at outside receiver and we play inside, but he stays on us, too. He’s an all-around good guy. He gives off good energy at practice. He’s always up-tempo and ready to play the next play.”
Troy travels to Moscow, Idaho on Saturday to take on Idaho at 4 p.m.