Trojans riding into New Orleans short handed

Published 3:00 am Friday, December 15, 2017

The Troy Trojans will be without key members of their team during Saturday’s R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against North Texas at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Injuries took their toll during Troy’s 32-25 win over Arkansas State in the season finale.

Troy cornerback Blace Brown and wide receivers Emmanuel Thompson, Tray Eafford and Clark Quisenberry will all be inactive on Saturday afternoon.

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“It definitely hurts us,” said head coach Neal Brown when asked about Blace Brown. “We lose a first-team all-conference player, somebody in the top five of interceptions over the last two years; so it’s definitely going to be a loss.”

Brown finished this season with five total interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown in the season-opening loss to Boise State.

Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Marcus Jones will be tasked with filling the void in the secondary.

“Marcus has been playing a lot for us at nickel,” Neal Brown said. “Our philosophy around here is next man up. I hate it for Blace; at the same time I am excited for Marcus. He is going to play that field corner spot and we have all the faith in the world that he will go out and perform well.”

Thompson has been a key cog on the offensive side of the ball throughout his career as a Trojan. This season the senior had 38 receptions for 420 yards but has played a big role in the run game with his ability to block.

“Just like we are not going to replace Blace, we are not going to replace Emmanuel and Tray,” Brown said. “Emmanuel has been one of our most consistent performers over the course of the last three years. He has a toughness element. We will miss his perimeter blocking as well.”

Eafford finished his freshman regular season with three touchdowns, including one in the season finale against Arkansas State.

“Tray was really coming on,” Brown said. “He played down the stretch as well as any of our offensive players. We are just going to lean heavy on Deondre (Douglas) and Damion (Willis). I think those guys are excellent receivers. I expect them to raise their level of play. They are just going to have to play a few more snaps than they have.”

Senior Tevaris McCormick should also get more snaps for the Trojans.