After big win, Trojans hope to learn from last year’s mistake

Published 7:20 pm Monday, September 17, 2018

The Troy Trojans picked up their second victory over a Power 5 opponent when they knocked off Nebraska on Saturday afternoon in Lincoln.

The Trojans stormed out to a 17-0 lead and held on to defeat the Cornhuskers 24-19 to improve their record on the year to 2-1.

It was a good win for us on Saturday,” said Head Coach Neal Brown. “I thought our players handled the trip well; Nebraska is one of the best venues in all of college football. Their fan base I can’t say enough about. It is one of the most positive environments and a really fun place to play.

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“I give a lot of credit to our staff. They had our guys ready to go. I thought we had a good plan in all three phases and it paid off.”

Brown said he hopes the team will handle this win better than they did a year ago after they defeated nationally-ranked LSU.

Last year after the Trojans knocked off the then No. 22 LSU Tigers, they were the talk of the country. Brown went on ESPN and the program quickly rose in popularity. Just 11 days later, they were brought down to earth with a disappointing 19-8 home loss against rival South Alabama.

“I think you learn as a coach. We are better prepared from a football program and athletic department standpoint to handle success now than we were a year ago,” Brown said. “We’ve had a lot of media attention going on two-plus years here, we probably have had more national media attention in the past six months than we’ve had ever as a program. I think our kids know how to handle success better.”

It wasn’t the first time that Brown and the Trojans failed to live up to the hype. In 2016, the Trojans became the first team in Sun Belt Conference history to be ranked when they landed on the Associate Press Top-25 poll after they started the season 8-2. Four days later in front of a national audience at home, the Trojans fell to Arkansas State 35-3.

“We played App State on the Saturday before Arkansas State. We had a huge crowd, maybe as good a crowd as we’ve had here as far as being into the game,” Brown said. “We had a big win, and then we played that Thursday. We didn’t play very well, but Arkansas State had a good football team.”

Last season, Brown felt like the entire program struggled with dealing with their success in Baton Rouge.

“In (2017), we just didn’t handle the success very well,” Brown said. “I don’t think as a whole entire football program, I don’t think we handled the success of the LSU game very well. Our kids didn’t. We played really poorly against South in that next game and got beat. I think you live and move on.” 

The Trojans went into the game against Nebraska as a double-digit underdog, but the players felt like they had to pieces to challenge the Cornhuskers, so they weren’t surprised to come out with a win.

“You have to believe in yourself and we do,” said Troy bandit Hunter Reese. “You can’t go into a place like that and not think you are going to win. You might as well not show up if that’s the case.”

This win is a lot different than it was against LSU,” Brown said. “It’s not the same vibe. Part of it was it being an early game, part of it the talent. We felt pretty good going in about how we matched up. I don’t know if anybody in our program was surprised by the outcome.”

Now it’s on to next week. The Trojans’ plan is simple.

What we are going to do today when we see our players for the first time, we are going to wrap it up no different than we did with FAMU,” Brown said. “It won’t take our guys long to get locked in on Monroe when they watch them on tape because they are playing as hard as anybody we have played in my tenure here and they are explosive on offense.”