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McClain, Trojans get off to a fast start in opening win

Five different Trojans got in the end zone Saturday during what coach Chip Lindsey called the team’s most complete game during his time at Troy.

The Trojans racked up 496 yards of offense and scored points on seven of their 14 possessions in what was a comfortable win over the Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro.

“I thought we were solid,” Lindsey said. “We got the lead and we really ran the football, which is something I like to see us be able to do. I thought Gunnar Watson in his first start did really well. I thought she showed a lot of toughness in the pocket.”

Watson finished the game completing 26 of his 37 passes for 248 yards and had two touchdowns. He threw two interceptions.

10 different receivers caught a pass for the Trojans on Saturday including senior wide out Khalil McClain who finished the afternoon with six catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns. For his efforts, McClain was named Troy’s offensive player of the week.

“I am very proud of Khalil,” Lindsey said. “That first spring in 2019 he struggled some. We challenged him to improve and get better. Instead of pouting he went to work. He is one of the hardest working guys on the team. He spent a lot of time in the offseason catching footballs and running routes. He got off to a great start and it doesn’t surprise me one bit. He is a big physical guy who loves to compete and practice. Glad to see him do it.”

Despite the two touchdowns and 75 yards, McClain believes there is a lot of room for improvement heading into his next game.

“I believe I can always play better,” McClain said. “I only had 75 yards. I feel like I can do a lot better than that. Just practice, that’s all I can do. I look at stats, but I don’t focus on them. I want to improve and win games.”

Multiple times in the first half, McClain used his big frame to go get the football. In at least two instances, McClain caught back shoulder passes from Watson.

“That was more on their defense and how they were playing me,” McClain said. “They were staying on my top shoulder. So as a quarterback, Watson knew he could put it on my back shoulder. We practice that all the time. I’m going to go up and get it.”
The Trojans rushed for 240 yards led by Smith who finished with 81 yards. Charles Strong, DK Billingsley and Kimani Vidal all had rushing touchdowns for the Trojans.

“I was really proud of that group,” Lindsey said. “We played all six of them and I think that’s going to be a good group as the year goes.”

With all the weapons on offense, McClain feels like the Trojans may give opposing defenses fits on Saturdays this season.

“Our offense is really explosive; almost everyone came back,” McClain said. “We got B.J. (Smith) back so that’s going to help. We have some freshman that have stepped up and played. I feel like we are going to give defenses a lot of trouble this year.”

The Trojans will be back in action on Saturday when the travel to Provo, Utah to take on nationally ranked BYU beginning at 9:15 p.m.