Trojans look to bounce back against Florida A&M

Published 11:46 pm Friday, September 7, 2018

The Troy Trojans look to turn the page from last week’s loss against Boise State when they host Florida A&M this evening inside Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The Trojans (0-1) struggled to contain the No. 22 Broncos in their 56-20 loss. They hope to gain their seventh consecutive victory following a loss this evening.

“We got hit in the mouth,” said head coach Neal Brown. “We are going to see how we respond. I hope it’s good and we get better moving forward.”

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The Trojans will rekindle an old, but brief, rivalry when the Rattlers make their way into Veterans Memorial Stadium. The two teams have met just five times with Troy holding the advantage by winning three games.

“I know with Florida A&M being close, they are going to travel well,” Brown said. “There is a lot of excitement in that program right now. It’s an old rivalry going back to Troy State back in the (Division) I-AA days.”

Troy and Florida A&M last met in the 1998 Division I-AA playoffs. Florida A&M got the better of the Trojans 27-17.

This year’s version of the Rattlers comes in with a 1-0 record after they defeated Fort Valley State 41-7.

“They are coming off a big win,” Brown said. “Willie Simmons, their head coach, is from that area. There is a lot of excitement with him being back. He has had a lot of success at Middle Tennessee when I was here as an assistant coach.”

Last week the Rattlers put up 276 yards on the ground, led by sophomore Bishop Bonnett.

“On offense, they are multiple,” Brown said. “They get the ball to a bunch of different guys. They had a big rushing attack on Saturday.”

The Trojans defense struggled for the majority of last Saturday’s game when they allowed 416 yards. This week the Trojans will be going up against a new set of weapons that could pose a challenge.

“I know they have really good athletes. Florida produces speed,” said Troy linebacker Justin Whisenhunt. “Offensively, I think they’ll try to pass the ball more than run. We have a pretty good run-stopping defense. We look forward to seeing how we play against them.”

Junior Kaleb Barker will get his second start at quarterback this week. Last week the junior completed 20 of his 29 passes for 211 yards and had one touchdown.

Barker and the rest of the Trojan offense will be going up against what offensive coordinator Matt Moore describes as a fast defense.

They’re very fast. Defensively, they can really run,” Moore said. “They play with like two big D-linemen and everybody else on the field can fly. That’s the first thing you notice when you cut the film on vs. Fort Valley is they can really run. They can run at corner, they can run at linebacker, they can run at D-line. And they like to blitz. It’s kind of an all-or-nothing mentality where they’re going to come after you. That’s really what we’re getting ready to face this week, is a lot of speed.”

This Saturday the Trojans will welcome back Troy’s 1968 National Championship team. The returning players will be honored on the field.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

“I encourage our fans to come out to the game this Saturday,” Brown said. “We will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our 1968 National Championship team. Sim Bird and the guys will be back in town and that is reason alone to come out and support those guys. It’s big weekend and we look forward to getting back to playing football the right way.”