Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday afternoon thoughts

B.J. Chitty breaks a tackle and scores a touchdown / Associated Press


Some thoughts from yesterday's Troy 39-29 win over UAB

**If you're a fan, you should be pleased for the most part with what happened. Troy and UAB were teams probably similar in talent, though Troy had upgrades in some areas and UAB had some advantages as well. The penalty count was certainly too high. Like what I thought would happened, UAB popped Troy in the mouth with a late second-quarter drive, an onside kick to start the second half plus that drive and some more drives in the third. But Troy took those punches and responded with some of their own. Here are what I thought were the 3 key second-half plays that gave Troy the win:

1. After he fumbled inside his red zone, Troy's defense held UAB to just a field goal but Shawn Southward took his next carry and ran 55 yards, giving momentum back and still showing that Troy was going to dominate on the ground. Troy scored a TD on that drive to go up 8.
2. De'Von Terry's INT when Troy was still just up two (thanks to an overturned 2-point pass via replay against UAB). That led to a quick strike score on a 2-play drive.
3. Tyler Roberts showing the hype he's been getting by getting a sack that forced a fumble around the 10-yard line. Troy scored on the first play to blow the game open.

**Troy's defense gave up 459 yards to UAB. Well, 110 came in the final 6 minutes of the game after Troy went up 16. The game was pretty much over at that point, but a huge play came on UAB's 2-point try when Zach Miller intercepted that pass to keep the lead at 10, a 2-score game, instead of 8.

**Troy's defense certainly had some pass coverage breakdowns, but the only time it let UAB run roughshod was on the drive after the onside kick. The game could have changed after that, which cut the lead to 17-14, but Troy didn't let it. Last year, it would have probably folded. This year, it didn't. Also, I don't recall many, if any, outright missed tackles. So, fundamentals seem to be much better though I think it'll be tougher this week vs. ULL because I think they'll see an upgrade at QB with Blaine Gautier.

**I thought Troy had some pretty good kick and punt coverage. Special teams certainly wasn't perfect, but Will Scott hit a 44-yarder on his first try and showed he can be pretty solid in all three areas.

**Justin Albert was the secret weapon at running back. He ran eight times for 50 yards and I don't believe UAB was prepared to see him in the game there. How long he stays there depends on how quick D.J. Taylor is able to come back.

**Eric Thomas caught just 1 pass for 4 yards and was barely targeted. In this offense, the X-WR seems to get the most looks for whatever reason, mostly because I would think a natural progression is for a QB to look from left to right. Thomas was the X-WR last year but is now the Z-WR. The X-WR has caught a lot of passes in this offense especially since 2010. Troy's passing attack wasn't sharp, but the run game was so much better than it was last year and Corey Robinson hit some passes late in the game when he needed to. Chip Reeves looked better than he ever has and B.J. Chitty really looked good after the catch on his touchdown. Jaquon Robinson and Chandler Worthy didn't have any catches and probably very few targets, but there's only so many balls to go around and Troy was focused on establishing dominance on the run game.

**Troy had some fluke plays go its way. The rugby punt hit a UAB player and Troy recovered, and UAB's Jackie Williams fumbled inside the Troy 5. Can't remember his fumble being caused by a hard hit. Sometimes you have to get the breaks and Troy got some early on.

**Deon Anthony looked pretty decent in his opportunities. He actually took the team down to inside the 5, but was pulled on a short 3rd and goal for Robinson, and Robinson fumbled. That was a little puzzling. UAB took it down the field and scored before the end of the first half.

**Troy got a good challenge in its first game. UL-Lafayette did not, cruising to a 40-0 victory over outmanned Lamar. ULL's defense will be stiffer, I would think, than UAB so the Trojans will certainly have to open up the playbook more and be sharper to come out with a home win. Troy vs. ULL, Saturday at 6 p.m.

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