Troy closes second week of spring in The Vet

Published 1:19 pm Saturday, March 25, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

For the first time since winning a Sun Belt Championship last December, the Troy Trojans were inside Veterans Memorial Stadium to wrap up the second week of spring practices on Saturday.

The practice session inside ‘The Vet’ is a rare one as Troy coach Jon Sumrall said that he wants it to feel special every time his players are inside the stadium.

“We don’t practice in here a whole lot,” he said. “I want when you come in here for it to feel like a special privilege and make sure our guys don’t take it for granted. I think you have to be careful about your guys becoming desensitized to certain environments. So, when you come here it’s usually a scrimmage day or it’s a live day where we’re getting ready to go play a game. It’s always fun be in the stadium.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Saturday’s practice was a mix between a typical practice and a scrimmage day with the Trojans going full contact for the first time during the spring.

“I like the action today, I think we’re doing some good things,” said Sumrall. “A couple of things I saw is we have to learn to tackle better, technique wise. A couple of guys got banged up using poor form and that’s on us teaching it and making sure they understand.”

Running back Kimani Vidal (28) picks up yardage during practice as linebacker Terry Thomas (12) chases him down.

The Trojan offense kicked off the scrimmage portion of the practice with back-to-back touchdown drives. Senior quarterback Gunnar Watson heaved a 45-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Rogers, while transfer receiver Landon Parker made a leaping touchdown grab from West Virginia transfer Goose Crowder on the second drive.

“I thought offensively we ran the ball well in the open field and I feel like we threw the ball well, too,” Sumrall said. “We’ve stacked three days offensively that are our best days we’ve had in over a year here. Some of that is bad defense at times and we have to get that fixed. We have a lot of things to work on here but I think the offense has really shown strides.”

Watson agreed with Sumrall’s assessment of the offense.

“I thought it went pretty good,” Watson said. “The offense started off a little slow in the practice session but I thought during the scrimmage, we started off with back-to-back touchdown drives, it went pretty well.”

Watson said that while he and his receivers still have work to do, he’s been impressed with the progress they’ve already made.

“They’re all coming along. Landon Parker, Chris Lewis, Jabre (Barber), Peyton Higgins have all been great. Marcus Rogers has taken huge steps since last year and Davonte Ross is a way different player from last year. I think they’re all coming along. We just have to keep working on our timing and we have some new offensive linemen, so we’re working on getting the snap count down and cleaning up all the little details, too.”

A big focus in spring practice has been the tempo of the offense but the coaching staff is hard at work making sure the defense doesn’t have a drop off either.

“We know we have to score more points next year,” Sumrall flatly said. “I’m not going to sit here and act like we’ll be okay not being great on defense, we will be great on defense. We’re putting an emphasis on our offense understanding that we need to be explosive and move the ball with big plays and sustain drives.

“The tempo has a lot to do with that. It doesn’t mean we’ll always be playing fast. Sometimes we are, we’re playing fast at times, but we’re still huddling some. I think being multiple and varied with your tempo helps. Our defense right now is having a hard time adjusting to getting into that rhythm, and it keeps you on your heels a little bit, which is what we want.”

Troy is back on the practice field next Tuesday morning.