Saturday, March 31, 2012

Video from the T-Day

The first one is with Larry Blakeney. The second video is with two players - safety Brynden Trawick and  running back D.J. Taylor.



Some T-Day quick stats

Video will be added later on, but here are some, not all, but some quick T-Day stats.
Thanks to the Troy media relations staff for compiling them

PASSING
Corey Robinson: 18-23-185 yards, INT, 17-yard TD run
Dallas Tidwell: 6-7-96,  TD (65 to Chris Williams)
Luke Barnes: 4-5-50, TD (20 to Bryan Holmes)
Deon Anthony: 2-3-31, TD (25 to Hakeem Haynie)

RUSHING
Chris Anderson: 11-51, TD (4 yards)
D.J. Taylor: 8-110, 2 TD (35, 3)
Shawn Southward: 10-63
Daron White: 7-34

RECEIVING
Jamel Johnson: 2-30
Eric Thomas: 4-48
Chip Reeves: 2-21
Bryan Holmes: 3-38, TD
Hakeem Haynie: 4-61, TD
Chandler Worthy: 2-64

The only INT was Brynden Trawick, who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
Shermane TeArt had a fumble recovery on defense
Total tackles were not kept, so I don't have those.

T-Day live chat

Since we've been doing this for several years now, let's continue the trend. If you want to join us during a T-Day live chat, I'll fire it up a little before 2 p.m. CST. If you can't join us, the replay will be here.

Big win for Troy baseball

Wish I could have been able to make this one, but Troy rallied from down 6-0 to beat Arkansas State 7-6 in the opening game of the Series.

Trojans are now 3-4 in conference play. Just read THIS for the recap and the box score is HERE.

Troy and ASU play at 7 p.m. Saturday night on CSS.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Special teams on display for T-Day scrimmage

Scrimmage is at 2 p.m. Live chat is in blog post below, and I'll get it moved up top when the scrimmage starts.

This story appears in Saturday's print edition of the Dothan Eagle. It can be found on dothaneagle.com HERE.

BY DREW CHAMPLIN

dchamplin@dothaneagle.com

TROY – Today’s T-Day scrimmage will give special teams coach Shayne Wasden a great opportunity to see how his new kickers and snappers perform in front of a larger crowd.

The Trojans lost nearly the entire special teams unit from a year ago. Kicker Michael Taylor, punter Will Goggans and long snapper Wes Henry have moved on. This year, three kickers are vying for all three spots – punter, kickoff specialist and field goal/extra point kicker, and two snappers are working to replace Henry.

Troy’s first scrimmage is at 2 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium and it’s dubbed the “T-Day” scrimmage. It’ll be played in front of perhaps the biggest crowd of the spring. Several recruits are also expected to be in attendance for unofficial visits.

Wasden has gotten a good look at his kickers through six practices so far, but practices are sparsely attended by fans.

“We want to try to put them in pressure situations and see how they perform,” Wasden said. “It’s easy to do it when you’re out here just practicing, but when you’re out here in front of a crowd and something’s on the line, we certainly want to see who can perform under those circumstances.”

Troy has three kickers vying for the job, and two are new to the program. Will Scott, a 5-foot-11, 192-pound junior from Lucedale, Miss., spent the last two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Ryan Kay, a 6-foot-1, 248-pound freshman from Dutchtown, Ga., signed with Troy in 2011 but delayed full-time enrollment as a grayshirt until January. The returning kicker is Jed Solomon, a 5-foot-7, 152-pound redshirt freshman from Valdosta, Ga., who walked on last year.

“We’re working hard and we look really good,” Scott said. “We work it every day, so we’ve got no choice but to be good.”

Scott was a second-team junior college All-American at Gulf Coast, averaging 43 yards per punt as a sophomore. He also kicked field goals and extra points as a freshman, and he’s currently ahead in the punting race.

Solomon has a slight leg up on field goals and extra points, Wasden said, but all three are still competing hard.

“It’s a competition every day,” Wasden said. “Will probably has a leg up punting the football, Jed would have a leg up on PAT/field goal and Ryan Kay’s strong point would be his punting right now. It’s really a luxury and a good situation that all three of those guys can do all of the kicking and punting.”

Scott said it’s a challenge to balance out all three kicking aspects while trying to get better at every one.

“On one (field goals), you’re trying to stay as straight as possible and on the other, you’re crossing over (kickoffs),” Scott said. “You’ve got to be able to do both. You’ve got to be disciplined, really.”

The two long snappers could both see the field. Kendall Gibson, a 5-foot-11, 276-pound junior from Greenville, is handling snaps on field goals and extra points, while Hunter Graham, a 5-foot-10, 191-pound junior from Lincoln, is snapping on punts.

Regardless of the new faces and the lack of experience, Scott is confident he and his fellow specialists will be able to get the job done.

“As many times as we do this, we’ve got no choice but to be good at it,” Scott said.

Troy hosts ASU

Trojans at home for the first time in Sun Belt play, hosting Arkansas State. ASU is off to a nice 5-1 start in conference play, while Troy is 2-4. Interesting to note the pitching matchups, as Troy goes Tyler Ray-Ryan Brady-TBA, when Jimmy Hodgskin has been the Saturday guy. 


I didn't talk to any coaches, but talked to Tyler Hannah and Logan Pierce, and both felt like the Trojans need to be more aggressive in games instead of watching and waiting. 


The story below appears in Friday's print edition of the Dothan Eagle. It can be found on dothaneagle.com HERE.

BY DREW CHAMPLIN
dchamplin@dothaneagle.com

After a disappointing start to the first one-third of the season, Troy players are focused and hoping to finish off the final eight weekends of the regular season with more aggression.

That starts tonight, as Troy (12-11, 2-4 Sun Belt) host Arkansas State (15-10, 5-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday’s game of the three-game Sun Belt series is at 7 p.m. and televised on CSS, and Sunday’s game is at 1 p.m.

The Trojans have been impressive at times, winning easily over Alabama and East Carolina, but have some hiccups, including a series loss at home to Monmouth, Sun Belt series losses at Arkansas-Little Rock and South Alabama and Wednesday’s 4-2 loss at lowly Alabama State.

“We might have set too high of goals for this team with a lot of guys coming back,” Troy first baseman Logan Pierce said. “It hasn’t worked out our way, but what makes a team is how strong can you be in the second half.”

This is Troy’s first home Sun Belt series, and ASU is off to a hot start, as the Red Wolves are tied for first in the standings with South Alabama and Florida Atlantic. Troy players know that late runs can propel a team to the top. Last year, Florida International started off slow, but rallied late in the year to finish second in the SBC.

“That’s baseball,” shortstop Tyler Hannah said. “We could go on a run and win 10 games in a row of our own. Some games, we’ll come out and be aggressive and dominate the whole game and some, we’re kind of laying back and seeing what happens.”

Pierce leads the team with a .360 average, and he has a 14-game hit streak heading into the weekend.

“I’m seeing the ball real well,” Pierce said. “I feel like I’m not getting my best swings, but I’m finding a way to put the bat on ball. What I’m hoping I can do is get some better swings when our team needs some run production.”

Troy will start Tyler Ray (2-2, 3.27 ERA) on the mound tonight and Ryan Brady on Saturday. Sunday starters are yet to be determined.

ASU only has nine home runs this year, but outfielder Michael Faulkner is hitting .320 and is a perfect 20-for-20 on stolen base attempts.

The rotation is paced by Daniel Wright (1-2, 3.47) and Jacob Lee (3-1, 3.47).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fleming hoping to stick at left tackle for Troy

This story appears in the Thursday print edition of the Dothan Eagle. You can read it on dothaneagle.com HERE.

***DON'T FORGET - Troy's first scrimmage, T-DAY, is Saturday at 2 p.m. 

BY DREW CHAMPLIN
dchamplin@dothaneagle.com

TROY– Jarred Fleming’s versatility helped Troy’s offensive line out in times of need last season, but now the senior is hoping he’s found a place to stay for the Trojans.

Fleming, now at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, is getting the first crack at left tackle, where he’d replace three-year starter and NFL Draft prospect James Brown.

Fleming started some games and split time at right tackle last year with Terrence Jones, and got a start at left guard in the season finale. He’s played or practiced everywhere but center.

“It’s nice just to get a position where I can stick,” Fleming said. “I just want to play, honestly. I’ll play anywhere they want me to play on the field.

“I’ve played everything but center. I finally hope I’ve found a home so I can get pretty good at one position.”

Offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said Fleming has worked hard to get to this point. He came to Troy before the 2010 season from East Central (Miss.) Community College, but had to redshirt that year because he broke his leg.

“He’s played (left tackle) before,” Edenfield said. “He’s gotten work there. We feel like he can do it so we’re going to continue to give him work there. He’s really gotten stronger and had a great offseason, so we’re anxious to see how he progresses.”

Troy coaches liked Fleming’s ability at Louisville (Miss.) High School, but felt he needed to get bigger and stronger to play at the collegiate level. Fleming was only 220 pounds as a senior in high school, and most offensive linemen now play at closer to 300.

“He was only 220 pounds, and it was just hard to sign a 220-pound tackle,” Edenfield said. “He had the opportunity to get his tuition paid for at junior college, and he did that.

“We couldn’t pull the trigger at 220, but after the first year (in junior college), we knew we were going to go on him.”

Fleming developed into the starting left tackle at East Central, but started eating more and put on more weight. After that first year, Fleming was at 250 pounds and Troy coaches came back with the offer. He got up to the 275-280 pound range as a sophomore, and that’s where he is now.

“Troy offered me a grayshirt (delayed enrollment), but I had a scholarship offer to a junior college and I felt like that was the best place for me,” Fleming said. “It ended up, later on, Troy was still there for me, so it worked out pretty good for me.”

Fleming said he learned a lot from Brown and how he went about business as a starting left tackle. Brown also came over from junior college and he didn’t have to gain weight, but just the opposite. Brown dropped down from 355 pounds as a sophomore to 310 as a senior.

“James had the intensity,” Fleming said. “He’s out there to knock somebody on every play. He gave all he had on every play and I’m trying to be the guy that gives everything he had like James Brown did. It’s hard to replace a guy like that, but we’ve got a need for that position and I’m trying to fill it.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Troy falls at Alabama State

There are games where you get no-hit until the 7th inning by a Sunday starter in the Sun Belt, then bash an in-state rival, then lose to a SWAC school. All in the span of 4 days. Such is life for Troy baseball this year, which will look brilliant at times but not so much at others.

You can read the recap from the 4-2 loss HERE.

You can view the box score HERE.

Robinson welcomes competition at QB

Spring practice on Tuesday

This story can be found in Wednesday's Dothan Eagle, or on dothaneagle.com HERE.

Story and interviews were written before I saw the depth chart, which had Dallas Tidwell at No. 2 ahead of Deon Anthony at No. 3. Depth chart was released Tuesday. Robinson and those two looked like a clear top 3 in practice Tuesday. It's a deal where Robinson's your starter, and it could be that Tidwell is the true No. 2 and Anthony's the change of pace guy. Or, there's still 10 more practices and more stuff could happen.

BY DREW CHAMPLIN
dchamplin@dothaneagle.com

TROY – Rising junior quarterback Corey Robinson now has some quarterbacks ready to challenge him for playing time, and the two-year starter has stepped up to the challenge early on in spring practice.

Robinson is being pushed by junior college transfer Deon Anthony and a pair of redshirt freshmen in Dallas Tidwell and Luke Barnes. Tidwell is slightly ahead of Barnes since he has gotten more reps in practice, but all three are competing for the backup spot and even to push Robinson.

“Corey is for sure way ahead right now, just from a command presence,”Troy offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said. “I have seen good things from Deon and I have seen good things from Dallas Tidwell.”

Robinson surpassed 7,000 career passing yards in his first two years and is on pace to shatter every Troy career passing record if he stays healthy. He had some competition from Jamie Hampton, but Hampton got hurt in each of the last two years and Robinson was able to stay healthy so coaches didn’t have to burn any redshirts.

Now that the other three quarterbacks are able to get more live reps with the first unit, the hope is that the game will start to slow down for them.

“You can know what to do on the board and you can know what to do on the drill board, but when the team starts going, you have to be able to slow it down,” Edenfield said. “That comes with experience. You want to give them reps, but you don’t want to do it at the expense of your No. 1 quarterback.”

Despite Robinson having two years left, Troy coaches still signed Anthony, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound quarterback who played at Hinds (Miss.) Community College.

At the worst, Anthony’s role could be as a quarterback in the Wildcat package, one where teams use a more athletic player than the starting quarterback to take snaps.

“He’s a guy that, if nothing else, can give us competition for Corey and give us a hybrid guy or a wildcat guy that can throw,”Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. “We’ve got plenty of wildcat guys who can’t throw.

“I know he’ll compete and I think he will. I think he can give us some added problems for defensive schemes if he’s a guy who can run on the field. He’s also a guy that can give us two quarterbacks on the field. He can motion out (wide) and we’ve got other things he can do.”

Anthony narrowed his choices down to Troy and Pittsburgh. He was set to visit Pitt, but then head-coach Todd Graham left for Arizona State.

“It was either Pittsburgh or here, and once the coaches left, I knew I was going to Troy,” Anthony said.
“Troy had been on me since the beginning. They were one of the first schools to come at me, and I knew I had a place here.”

Anthony, who is originally from New Iberia,La., knew the quarterback situation coming in, and signed with the intention of playing.

“I saw last year where they had a down year and in previous years, they were pretty good,” Anthony said. “If they had somebody to push the other guy, it would make the team better.

“They didn’t have a quarterback with the speed to pull down the ball and run if the defensive end cracks down, so I can give them that.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Troy wins at JSU

Good night for Troy's offense and pitching staff, as Trojans won 9-1 at Jacksonville State.

Danny Collins had a home run and five RBIs and Boone Shear homered. Logan Pierce has now hit in 13 straight games.

Troy is at Alabama State Wednesday night.

Game story HERE and box score HERE.

Corey Johnson has ACL surgery

Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said the surgery for starting wide receiver Corey Johnson to repair a torn ACL on Tuesday was a successful. Johnson got hurt on Saturday late in practice.

However, Blakeney thinks that Johnson, Troy's second-leading receiver last year with 43 catches for 440 yards, can return from the surgery this fall despite the serious nature of the injury.

"I don't think there's any question he could (come back)," Blakeney said. "There's a lot of things that help guys come back. No. 1, the best surgeons in the world don't hurt, and we've got that. Everything went well in the surgery and they did have to reconstruct some stuff."

Johnson transferred in from junior college last year. Johnson was a high school graduate in the spring of 2008, and this fall would mark his fifth fall since then. Maybe that means he used a redshirt year sometime in junior college, but they could still apply for a sixth season of eligibility. Blakeney was under the impression that he'd have to try to make it back this fall.


"You've got to be smart, you've got to understand that those rehabbers are there to help you and not hurt you, you've got to work on your diet and do everything right to get back," Blakeney said. "I think he'll do it. I think his senior year is important to him."

Felton Payton moved to the Y-receiver spot in place of Johnson, who would be starting there if healthy.

**The spring depth chart, which could change several times, is HERE.

VIDEO: Chandler Worthy

Here is a short video I did with sophomore wide receiver Chandler Worthy after Saturday's practice.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring football injury notes

Just catching up on injury notes during spring practice

**It looks like real bad news for senior receiver Corey Johnson. He posted on his twitter that he tore his ACL, which happened near the end of Saturday's practice, and was getting an MRI today. If in fact it is a torn ACL, I can't see how there's any way he'd be ready for the fall. Johnson, with 44 catches for 440 yards, was Troy's second-leading receiver last year. I did see Johnson headed toward the cart, but probably didn't think anything of it at the time.

Troy still has options at the inside receiver positions, including senior Justin Albert, sophomore Chandler Worthy, senior Jaquon Robinson (out for spring with foot injury) and junior Sam Haskins, among others. Troy has four wide receiver signees for the fall.

I was not able to reach head coach Larry Blakeney for official word on Johnson's injury as of Monday afternoon. Troy practices Tuesday and Thursday afternoon this week and Saturday's T-Day scrimmage.

**Senior offensive lineman Cody Woodiel had been getting some first-team reps at left guard with Kyle Wilborn out, but he suffered a toe injury last week and was in a boot on Saturday. Coach Larry Blakeney said Saturday that he wasn't sure when or if he'd be back this spring. Woodiel is a good player that coaches could probably find a spot for if he's healthy. I do think this will be a good offensive line group if injuries don't bite them again.

**Sophomore right guard Zach Johnson has a sprained neck. My guess is he's back at some point this spring but it shouldn't affect him for the fall.

**Jaquon Robinson (foot), Kyle Wilborn (shoulder), offensive lineman Jimbo Arnold (foot) and linebacker Kanorris Davis (foot) are out for spring.

**A few guys weren't dressed out fully on Saturday, but not sure what their statuses are. However, nothing looked serious. Safeties Barry Valcin and Chris Pickett were not dressed out in pads. Running back Brian Exley didn't have pads on, and offensive lineman Demarkus Underwood wasn't dressed out.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baseball/softball update

Not a good Sunday for the diamond Trojans. Troy baseball continues to struggle on the road in Sun Belt play, dropping a 7-3 decision at UALR. Troy is now 2-4 in Sun Belt play, losing series at South Alabama and UALR. The offense just isn't where coaches thought it would be, and the pitching has been good at times, but inconsistent.

Game recap HERE and box HERE.

Troy softball gave No. 8 UL-Lafayette its first loss of the season on Saturday with a 9-4 win in the doubleheader, but ULL responded with wins in the final two games of the series. Troy went 2-2 this week, but all four games were against ranked teams, ULL and No. 21 Auburn, and Troy beat Auburn on Wednesday.

Sunday notes: Troy not holding back in spring sessions

Saturday's spring practice

This notebook appears in the print edition of the Sunday Dothan Eagle and can be found on dothaneagle.com HERE.

BY DREW CHAMPLIN
dchamplin@dothaneagle.com

TROY – Troy’s fourth practice of the spring had its share of physical battles in one-on-one drills.
The Trojans are building off a strong offseason program and bringing the noise in practice. This year’s spring practices have had more of an aura of physicality than in years past.
Maybe it’s because the Trojans are trying to get the taste of a 3-9 season out of their mouths.
“I hope you’re right,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. “We’ve had good enthusiasm. We’ve still got a long way to go to be a good football team, both ways.”
Oklahoma drills, where a blocker took on a defender while a runner had to either plow over or get around the defender, were spirited on Saturday morning. It was a delight for upperclassmen who have seen the good and bad of Troy football over the last few years.
“From last year to this year, everybody’s going so much harder on every play,” senior left tackle Jarred Fleming said. “As a senior, I love that. Nobody wants to have a year like last year, ever, and you can feel that on the field.
“They’re trying to breed competition and that never-quit attitude. I feel like we’ve done a good job answering that call by the coaches.”

 Special teams work: The NCAA passed new rules regarding kickoffs this year, and Troy spent part of Saturday working on that. Kickoffs will be at the 35, though the kickoff team must be five yards behind the kickoff guy until the ball is kicked.
“It shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s a different timing problem as far as getting off and attacking that line, being in synch with the kicker, all that stuff,” Blakeney said.
Touchbacks are now being brought out to the 25-yard line, instead of the normal 20-yard line. It makes for some interesting strategy. Do you pin the return team deep and try to stop them before they reach the 25, or just kick it in the end zone?
“We’re probably going to try to pin it,” Blakeney said. “If we can kick it in the end zone, we’ll take it. I’m not sure what all of our capabilities will be with all of these kickers trying to make the team.”
Will Scott, who signed with Troy to punt, was the first kicker on extra point and field goal drills. Blakeney said he can do both, and Ryan Kay, another new kicker, has a big leg. Jed Solomon, a returning walk-on who redshirted last year, was out sick on Saturday.

Brown settling in: New cornerbacks coach Julius Brown is finding his way at Troy after spending the last several years as a player, graduate assistant and director of player personnel at Boise State.
“I’m leaning on Coach (Jeremy) Rowell a lot,” Brown said. “He’s been doing this for a long time. I’m trying to get these kids better and help them reach the levels they want to reach and help this team reach the level it wants to reach.”
Many smaller schools are trying to emulate the success Boise State has had on the national scene. Troy is one of them, though Brown feels like the Trojans are already on solid footing nationally.
“Troy definitely has a good following,” Brown said. “People know who they are. They’ve played a lot of big teams and knocked a lot of big teams. I’m excited to be here with these guys.”

Injury report: With physical practices come injuries. Several players are sitting out some practices. Sophomore right guard Zach Johnson was out with a sprained neck. Senior offensive lineman Cody Woodiel is out indefinitely with a toe injury. Defensive backs Barry Valcin and Chris Pickett were among others not dressed out. Wide receiver Corey Johnson got banged up late in practice. Redshirt freshman quarterback Luke Barnes had to miss practice because he was in a wedding.

Troy bounces back

Down 5-1 early in the game, Troy rebounded to beat UALR 8-7 on Saturday. Trojans got good relief pitching performances from Thomas Austin, Nate Hill & Tyson Workman.

Teams finish the series today (Sunday) at 1 p.m.

Game recap HERE and box score HERE.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday practice notes/video


Nice, spirited Saturday morning spring practice. I can't say I've been to even most spring practices since 2005, but this one just had a lot more intensity than in years past.

This was Troy's fourth practice, and they did some 11-on-11 full-pad scrimmage work at the end with referees. No stats were kept, but Corey Robinson led the team down the field on one drive and he kept it and scored on a 22-yard run. Before that, he had thrown an interception to Bryan Willis, who stepped in front of an underthrown ball to Jamel Johnson.

Deon Anthony took snaps with the next unit, and Dallas Tidwell got a lot of work. It seems like those three are out in front, though Luke Barnes is in the mix as well. Barnes was at a wedding today. Offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said that Robinson is well out in front of the rest of the guys right now, and the other three are battling for what seems like a backup spot.

The first unit defense, from what I saw, had a defensive line of Tony Davis-Aaron Williams-John Clark, linebackers of Jacoby Thomas-Brannon Bryan-Brandon Powe-Dimitri Miles, corners of Bryan Willis-Ethan Davis and safeties Brynden Trawick-Cam Hudson. Others who I saw rotate with the 1s, and there could have been more, were Wayland Coleman-Dancer in place of Miles and Chris Davis/Jeremy Spikner in place of the corners.

You've got to remember that Kanorris Davis will be in one spot when he returns from injury - probably in the spot where Miles was playing today, but we'll see as spring goes on.

Injuries pile up as spring practice wore on. Aside from guys out that I have already written on, the following were out or got hurt, and I'm not sure about the specific injuries on all of them: OL Cody Woodiel (toe), OL Zach Johnson (sprained neck), DB Chris Pickett, WR Corey Johnson, DB Barry Valcin and DB Chris Pickett, to name a few. Some guys who have already been out include OL Kyle Wilborn (shoulder), LB Kanorris Davis (foot), OL Jimbo Arnold (foot)

Finally, here is some video with new cornerbacks coach Julius Brown.

Troy falls in Game 1

Trojans couldn't solve UALR ace Chance Cleveland, who had 17 saves last year in JUCO and they turned that nasty closer stuff into a starter who can apparently be pretty good.

Troy loses 5-3. Jo-El Bennett hit a 2-run homer in the ninth to make it 5-3.

Game recap HERE and box score HERE.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Troy travels to UALR this weekend

Troy takes batting practice at UALR's field Thursday night/John Rushing photo 


Troy returns to Sun Belt play this weekend, and it’ll be another challenge on the road. Troy (10-9, 1-2 Sun Belt) is coming off a 9-0 win over Alabama, but lost two out of three last weekend at South Alabama.

Arkansas-Little Rock, which won the Sun Belt Tournament last year as the No. 8 seed, is 13-8, but 0-3 in Sun Belt play after getting swept at Arkansas State last weekend. Troy and UALR play in Little Rock this weekend, with games Friday at 6, Saturday at 4 and Sunday at 1.

“They’re a tough, scrappy team off to a pretty good start,” Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said. “Tough place for us to go in and play, or it has been historically. They’re on the rise in our league and they’ve always been looking forward to games like this. 

“We’ve got to meet that challenge. We’ve got to play good, solid baseball to get our team on track in conference play.”

Troy is battling the injury bug, as three key players got hurt last weekend at South Alabama. Starting center fielder Clay Holcomb got hit in the arm with a pitch on Saturday, and Pierce said on Tuesday that he would be in a cast for 10 days.

“It’s not a break, but it’s a severe bruise and they want to stabilize it to try to get it to heal,” Pierce said.

Pitcher Jimmy Hodgskin was hit in the thumb under his glove on his right hand with a batted ball, and pitcher Chris Fisher was hit with a hard grounder on the foot.

“The bad news wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” Pierce said Tuesday. “Those guys should be OK for the weekend – not Holcomb, but Hodgskin and Fisher – but it is a day-to-day thing.”

However, when Troy announced its pitching rotations, the Saturday and Sunday games had TBA  behind Tyler Ray (2-1, 2.52) on Saturday. The TBA on Saturday is related to Hodgskin’s injury, as he is normally the starting pitcher on Saturday.

Troy has tried several pitchers in the Sunday role. Ryan Brady threw 4 2/3 shutout innings against Alabama on Tuesday, throwing 66 pitches, and could be ready for a Sunday start.

“I think we saw enough to continue to give him the ball,” Pierce said. “Whether it’s this weekend or not will depend on how he recovers.”

UALR’s pitchers will be junior righty Chance Cleveland (4-1, 3.45) on Friday, junior right-hander Blake Huffman (3-1, 3.64) on Saturday and sophomore right-hander Ethan Schlechte (1-0, 3.06) on Sunday.

UALR’s Ben Bignall has hit nine home runs (second-best in the NCAA) and driven in 35 runs (tops in the NCAA) this season. Ben Crumpton is hitting .396, Cameron Bentley and Bignall are each hitting .375, Chris Burk is hitting .357 and Blake Johnson is hitting .326.

First baseman Logan Pierce leads Troy hitting .352 with two homers and 13 RBIs. Shortstop Tyler Hannah is hitting .343. Designated hitter Danny Collins is hitting .325 with three home runs and 15 RBIs and outfielder Boone Shear has three home runs and a team-best 27 RBIs.

Third baseman Austin Golden entered the lineup recently and in 31 at-bats, he’s hitting .387.

Trojans for a Cure

Was alerted to this event in Troy on Monday night, and wanted to spread the word.

Troy offensive lineman Kyle Wilborn and other members of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee are putting on an event at Momma Goldberg's in downtown Troy next Monday night, March 26, from 5-10 p.m.

There will be live music and specials on food and drinks. Various student athletes from Troy will be at the event helping collect donations and refilling drinks for guests throughout the evening. All donations collected from the event will benefit the Relay for Life campaign in the fight against cancer. 

For more information, go to the facebook group HERE.

Troy announces Julius Brown as assistant coach

Troy officially announced the hiring of Julius Brown as the cornerbacks coach. Ken Rogers has written a story on it, that I will get posted today. But HERE is the school's release.

Brown replaces Mo Crain, who was let go as defensive tackles coach in January. Randy Butler will now coach the entire defensive line and Jeremy Rowell, the defensive coordinator, will coach safeties along with his coordinator duties. Rowell had been coaching the entire secondary.

---------------------------------------------------
The story on DothanEagle.com HERE and it will be in Friday's print edition.

BY KEN ROGERS
krogers@dothaneagle.com

TROY – He played at Boise State, coached at Boise State and was an administrator at Boise State, but new Troy cornerbacks coach Julius Brown’s Southern roots run pretty deep, too.
“I’m originally from Lake Charles, La.,” Brown said last week. “I moved away to Stockton, Calif., when I went to high school. I still have a lot of family here in the South, though, so I’m excited.”
He’s not the only one. Brown officially started work on Larry Blakeney’s staff Thursday when the hire was announced, but his hiring was reported almost two weeks ago. Brown has been coaching the corners during spring practice.
“I really like this young man,” Blakeney said. “He’s got some enthusiasm and got some good knowledge, especially for a young guy.”
Brown’s responsibility as cornerbacks coach marks a change in Troy’s defensive organization. Coordinator Jeremy Rowell has also been the team’s secondary coach. Blakeney decided to add a cornerbacks coach and put Rowell in charge of the safeties.
“We have done pretty extensive research on this position,” Blakeney said. “The corner’s responsibility is a little bit different than the safeties. Leaving Jeremy to coach the safeties and giving Julius the corners, I think, is a good move.”
Blakeney said Randy Butler, who had been the defensive ends coach, will now coach the entire defensive front. Benjy Parker will continue to coach the linebackers.
“Looking forward to getting him on board and getting him indoctrinated into what we’re trying to do. Let him have some input,” Blakeney said. “He’s worked with special teams. That’ll help us.”
Brown stood out in both his resume and his interview, Blakeney said.
“Anytime you hear Boise this day and age you got to perk your ears up and listen,” the coach said, referring to Chris Petersen’s program. “Finding the right guy has been first and foremost. He interviewed and did a really good job. He’s a sharp young man.
“He’s really a mature guy. He’s got a lot of great ideas. We have talked to him a bunch about recruiting, talked a bunch about other things that I think he will make us better.”
After three years as graduate assistant at Boise, Petersen put him in charge of player personnel, Blakeney noted.
“He’s worked in recruiting, helped with a lot of the nuts and bolts with that program,” the coach said. “He’s ready to spread his wings and fly as a position coach. I’m excited for him and excited about him.”
Brown said he was eager for the “opportunity to get back on the field.”
“I get to coach my own group,” he said. “I came up, met the staff. They’ve got a great head coach and great assistants, also. I was very attracted to this place.”
Brown said he was eager to start watching tape on his group.
“For me, it’s the position I played. I’m very comfortable in that role and hopefully I can help these guys develop to where they can be all-conference-type corners,” he said.
“There’s talent. For me, it’s just getting the chance to see those guys and get familiar with them. We’ve started spring practice, so I’ll be learning names on the fly.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday links

Good night for Trojans on the diamond. Troy did a lot of things right, beating Alabama 9-0. Hit well, guys stepped up, played defense well and pitched especially well. Look for a guy like Ryan Brady to find his way into the Sunday spot sooner than later. If he can pitch into the sixth and keep Troy in the game, they'll have a chance to win series.

You can read the game story HERE.
Some injury notes. Freshman CF Clay Holcomb is out for at least 10 more days with a hand injury. No fracture, just a deep bruise, but they're trying to stabilize it. He got hit by a pitch on Saturday at South Alabama. This gives Ali Knows a chance for extended at-bats. Jimmy Hodgskin and Chris Fisher got tagged by line drives/hard grounders at South as well, but they should be good to go this weekend.

Here's some video reaction


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Football-wise, I got to write a little bit on the defense, and how they'll have a slightly new look with more speed. It's a 4-3, but with a linebacker as the fourth lineman. So, look for a favorite of mine, Jacoby Thomas, to have a big season. They're also trying to get it to where the safeties and nickels are interchangable and guys know how to play both positions. I've always thought Brynden Trawick would look much better in the box than back deep, but not sure where he's working. This could give guys like Angelo Hadley and Cam Hudson a chance to shine at safety.

The football story is HERE.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Robinson optioned to Omaha

Clint Robinson warms up before a spring training game/AP photo


Troy's best bet at making a major league roster sooner than later is Clint Robinson, a 27-year-old first baseman/DH in the Kansas City Royals organization.

Robinson hit .326 with 23 home runs and 100 RBIs last year for AAA Omaha, and was an AAA all-star, but the Royals have Eric Hosmer locked in at 1B and Billy Butler at DH. Robinson was optioned to Omaha earlier this week.

He may need an injury or a trade to get a crack in the majors.

On another note, you can follow Clint on twitter @ClintR1b25

Troy hosts Alabama tonight

Danny Collins takes a hack against Southern Miss
 
Trojans are back at home tonight, this time against Alabama. Troy is 9-9, Alabama is 8-12, so it's a battle between two teams who are underachieving a bit. I'd say Troy's prospects are a bit better in turning things around, but you never really know what can happen in a midweek game.

I wrote THIS STORY in today's paper on sophomore 3B/DH Danny Collins, who actually started his career at Alabama. We didn't talk much about that, and I ended up writing more on how he recently got contacts and it's helped his vision at the plate.

Junior RHP Ryan Brady gets his first start of the season tonight. Trojans are looking for consistency in the back end of its rotation and Brady is the latest pitcher to get a turn.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some Monday baseball notes

Spoke with head coach Bobby Pierce about the Trojans' matchup with Alabama tomorrow.

Pierce said they got outplayed at South Alabama over the weekend. "I thought it was a hard-fought series by both teams. For the most part, they just outplayed us."

Troy's four errors led to a 16-4 loss on Sunday, but the pitching didn't exactly inspire anyone. Ryan Brady, who will get the start against Alabama tomorrow, will have a chance to pitch his way into weekend contention. Cass Abercrombie started on Sunday, but wasn't as effective as he was against East Carolina about two weeks ago.

Three injuries to worry about for the time being. CF Clay Holcomb got hit in the wrist by a pitch Saturday, and they're waiting on X-Rays. I'd say he's questionable for the time being. Saturday starting pitcher Jimmy Hodgskin took a line drive off the glove thumb, and they're waiting on results there. Chris Fisher, who pitched in relief on Sunday, took a hard grounder off the shin. Pierce said the first thought with Hodgskin and Fisher is that it's just a bone bruise and hopefully not a fracture.

Troy has been snake-bit with injuries this season. LHPs Ryan Sorce and Shane McCain are out with arm surgery. C/DH Blake Martz was ruled ineligible for an NCAA rules violation. 1B/DH Kyle Brown had season-ending hip surgery. RHP Adam Purdy broke his foot, and now these three guys.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Monday spring practice links/more notes


Guy on the far left in gray shirt pretending to do work. Matt Mays photo
That's me talking to QB Deon Anthony. Adam Prendergast photo.


Sunday was the first day of spring practice for Troy and HERE is what I wrote.

A couple more notes:

***Troy's defense will feature more speed on the field. I spoke with head coach Larry Blakeney and linebacker Brannon Bryan about it. Bryan said it's like a 4-3 with 3-4 personnel. So, you'll have three big guys and a fourth guy up front, but the fourth guy would be a linebacker, and that linebacker would be Jacoby Thomas. Thomas can rush the passer or drop back into coverage. Blakeney said this change would be to combat what other teams' offenses are doing by spreading things out.

Trojans can still play a base 4-3 if they want, especially if the two JUCO defensive tackles coming in turn into mammoths like they hope they will.

***Bryan, now a senior, has been moved back to the MLB position. He started at the WLB the last few games of 2010 and all of last season. He'll be the guy that calls out certain checks, etc. Bryan said he enjoys that position more and I think he'll excel at it.

***Julius Brown was at Troy's practice coaching the cornerbacks. He was introduced to the team following practice. I didn't get a chance to talk to him, but when the hire is officially announced, we'll get the story up. Jeremy Rowell will coach just the safeties, and Randy Butler will take over the entire defensive line.

***Former Troy wideout Gary Banks (2004-07) was at practice on Sunday. Banks, who played three years with the San Diego Chargers, is now coaching at Spain Park High School under former Troy QB coach Chip Lindsey. He now has three kids, a girl and two boys.

***Hard to figure out what's going on with Troy baseball, but the Trojans lost 16-4 to South Alabama on Sunday to lose the series. Troy has lost 3 of the 5 series it has played in this year so far and hosts Alabama on Tuesday night.

Spring Practice notes



I was able to come out for the first practice. I won't be at all of them, but will be at some. Above is some video with Tony Davis.

***Position changes - as of now, Davis is playing defensive end, where he had been a two-year starter at defensive tackle. Chris Pickett is playing safety, and K.D. Edenfield is working at wide receiver where he was a quarterback last year.

***Injuries - left guard Kyle Wilborn is out this spring. He had December shoulder surgery and recently had surgery to take his gall bladder out. That's seven surgeries since he graduated high school. Jimbo Arnold, who backed up Wilborn last year and started some in his place, is out as he's got a huge brace on his foot. Wide receiver Jaquon Robinson also has a foot injury and he'll just be holding this spring. Linebacker Kanorris Davis is recovering from a late-season dislocated ankle. All four should be good to go by the time the season starts.

***Chip Reeves is practicing this spring. He's still very fast.

***Cody Woodiel was with the first group at left guard, and Jarred Fleming was at left tackle and Andrew Phillips at center. They joined returning starters Zach Johnson and Terrence Jones on the offensive line.

***Troy has to replace its entire kick unit. It looked like Jed Solomon took the first extra point try. The first time I saw Will Scott punt one, he really boomed it. The next one, he shanked a bit, but I think he'll be a solid one. Ryan Kay is a grayshirt from last year - he's a big kid and he'll play a role somewhere.

Sunday links

I'm back, and it's time to catch up on a few things.

***Troy begins spring practice at 5:30 p.m. tonight. I wrote THIS story leading into it, and got to talk to two offensive linemen - Terrence Jones and Dalton Bennett - about the Octagon program. They had some good stuff to say about it and how it got them ready for spring practice.

***Troy is 1-1 on the weekend at South Alabama. Trojans lost 7-2 Friday night, as Tyler Ray had his streak of 14 straight wins snapped. Ray's worst two performances since the start of last season have, oddly enough, been in Mobile at South Alabama. Troy rebounded with a 10-6 win on Saturday, as Nate Hill came out of the pen and dominated with 5.1 innings of relief and Troy swung the bats well.

Game 1 box HERE

Game 2 box HERE.

In Game 2, Austin Golden, who seems like he has taken command of the third base job, moved to leadoff and went 2-for-5 with 2 runs scored. Chase Mathis went 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs and Boone Shear went 2-for-5 with 4 RBIs. Mathis snapped an 0-for-13 slump and probably earned him another start if Troy sees a RHP on Saturday.

Troy and South Alabama play Game 3 at 1 p.m. today.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring practice primer

So, Troy begins spring practice Sunday night around 5:30, last I was told. Practices are open to the public, and there are three scrimmages.

What to look for at every position, briefly:

QB - Corey Robinson is back as a two-year starter, but there are three quarterbacks who have all used their redshirts (Dallas Tidwell, Luke Barnes, K.D. Edenfield), and a JUCO quarterback (Deon Anthony) enrolled in January to compete for the job. Anthony is a dual-threat guy coming off a successful JUCO career. You could say he's like Omar Haugabook, but he's 3 inches taller. Looks like there's a lot on the line for all of these guys.

RB - There are four seniors, three who take nearly all of the carries, but look at scrimmages for guys like redshirt freshman Daron White, sophomore Brian Exley and the fourth senior, T.J. Mitchell, to get the bulk of the carries.

WR - It will be good to see Jamel Johnson in a Troy uniform again. Chip Reeves, too, though he's not expected to practice until August unless something has changed. Both are incredible athletes, in my opinion, and will make the entire offense better.

OL - Who will replace James Brown at left tackle? Looks like senior Jarred Fleming, who started games at right tackle and left guard last season, will get the first crack with Dalton Bennett, a redshirt freshman, behind him. Center is a spot for grabs as well.

DL - Who will be the defensive ends? Tony Davis is likely to play there, but who else? Could be redshirt freshman Deon Lee or junior college transfer Brandon Timmons, or someone else. Will the defensive tackles be better and stronger and able to command two offensive linemen on blocks?

LB - Troy signed five midyear linebackers, by my count (Brandon Powe, Wayland Coleman-Dancer, Martrez Townes, Eli Canton, Mark Wilson) from the JUCO ranks, but return two starters in Brannon Bryan and Kanorris Davis (who probably won't do much after his late season ankle injury), plus a sophomore in Brach Bessant who was ready to play big snaps by the end of last season. There are more names, but who of this group will step up?

DB - It looks like JUCO corner Jeremy Spikner will have an opportunity to win a starting spot. This unit has some guys who have played coming back, but need guys who can step up and be big-time playmakers in the secondary, forcing fumbles and stepping in front of and picking off passes in games more often.

K/P - Will Scott, Ryan Kay and Jed Solomon are the names to watch here. Looks like two of these guys will emerge as your kicker and punter, but which ones? Long snapper is a battle as well.

2012 Troy Spring Practice Schedule
Practice 1 – Sunday, March 18
Practice 2 – Tuesday, March 20
Practice 3 – Thursday, March 22
Practice 4 – Saturday, March 24
Practice 5 – Tuesday, March 27
Practice 6 – Thursday, March 29
T-Day – Saturday, March 31 (2 p.m.)
Practice 8 – Tuesday, April 3
Practice 9 – Thursday, April 5
Scrimmage 2 – Friday, April 6 (6 p.m. in Phenix City)
Practice 11 – Tuesday, April 10
Practice 12 – Thursday, April 12
Scrimmage 3 – Saturday, April 14


SPRING ROSTER - Can be found HERE. Scanning through it, scholarship player names I'm not seeing from last year who had eligibility left and I have not already written on are: RB Montrell Conner, WR Hollis Moore, OL Cody Jenkins, LB Terron Bell. None of these guys made an impact on the year (or more) that they were here.

I had already written on DE Jonathan Massaquoi, TE Gavin Ellis, DT Tony Gillespie, DE Xavian Evans and DB D.J. Jones not returning.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Heads up, you guys

Knowing this was Troy's spring break, I had requested a few vacation days a long time ago for later in the week, so you won't see me updating the blog except for one post I've already pre-loaded.

Didn't think anything would go on, but the official announcement for the completion of Troy's football coaching staff will be later this week. Ken Rogers will write it up for us and it'll be on dothaneagle.com.

I'll also have a baseball preview for the South Alabama series in the Friday paper, but it's a rehash of the notes I posted yesterday.

Have fun, I'll be back on Sunday for spring practice and baseball updates. Yes, I absolutely scheduled off time around the NCAA Tournament.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Candidates for Sun Belt expansion

Wanted to throw this link there as it pertains to the future of the Sun Belt.

CBSSports, namely college football reporter Brett McMurphy, has better sources on the college football realignment landscape than anyone. He lists Charlotte and Texas San-Antonio as two leading candidates to join the Sun Belt.

You can read it HERE.

Later in the story, it mentions that three schools - North Texas, Florida Atlantic and Florida International - has been in contact or contacted the powers-that-be in the CUSA/MWC alliance.

Tuesday baseball notes

Spoke with head coach Bobby Pierce for some midweek stuff. Troy is off for Spring Break from midweek games, but it won't be a week at the beach. Coaches are using extra practice time to sort out inconsistencies for the Trojans (8-7), who open Sun Belt play at South Alabama this weekend.

"We've been close at times, but for the good portion of the season, we haven't been as consistent everywhere like we need to be," Pierce said.

***Cass Abercrombie (1-0, 2.25), a junior from G.W. Long High School in Skipperville, has earned the Sunday starting spot. Abercrombie threw six strong innings against a very good East Carolina team last Wednesday in an 8-2 Troy win. He hasn't pitched much in his career until this year, but has really developed.

"What I appreciate the most about Cass is not only the success he's having, but his work ethic over his career," Pierce said. "This was when his opportunities weren't going to come every week. What he did every day was show up to the ballpark with a smile on his face with the intent to get better. It's finally starting to really click for him."

Junior Ryan Brady has also worked himself into the mix for starting consideration.

***Junior catcher Brandon Brown has been out with a left thumb injury, and freshman Jake Harrell (1 HR, 10 RBI) has taken advantage of the opportunity, Pierce said. Pierce is hoping to get Brown back this weekend so he can have the option to use both catchers.

"Brandon got thumbed pretty good," Pierce said. "It got swollen and if you don't rest that, it can be something that's ongoing for the remainder of the season. In his limited action, we've had him taped up to the max."

"We've been pleased with Jake Harrell's progress, especially considering he didn't practice one day in the fall with his finger injury. He's shown the skill set that we thought he had, but his overall growth and what it takes to be a Division I championship ballplayer, there is still room for improvement."

Harrell, like most first-year catchers, had a huge adjustment in baserunning. At the high school, summer ball and even junior college level, you can pinch-run for your catchers to speed up the game.

"It's a big adjustment for most any catcher," Pierce said. "Division I coaches don't like that rule because you don't get to develop your baserunning skills."

***Second baseman Tyler Vaughn twisted his ankle on Friday and couldn't play, but did play Saturday and got a pinch-hit on Sunday.

***Tyson Workman, who was the leadoff hitter late last year, is day-to-day with an illness, but has fallen behind in the quest for at-bats and playing time as a position player at second base (he played outfield last year). Workman is one of the team's top relievers but is behind Vaughn and Jakob Nixon at second.

***Austin Golden has started the last four games at third, with Danny Collins at DH. Collins had made nine errors early on and Golden made one in four games, but he's holding his own offensively to stay in the lineup, Pierce said, and doing better on the routine plays. They are still working with Collins at third to work some things out and while of course his bat will be in the lineup, they're hoping to get him back on the field some as well.

Monday, March 12, 2012

VIDEO: Brandon Boudreaux on the bench press

Brandon Boudreaux didn't play a whole lot over his career at Troy, but the guy is an impressive physical specimen. During Pro Day, I was able to record his performance on the bench - a team-best 39 reps.

I didn't get the best shot. I was at first trapped behind a big crowd because I was watching the vertical jump, and then maneuvered my way behind the bench. But, I just wanted to give you a feel for the atmosphere and the applause he got after his performance.

Troy's Blake Martz ruled out for season

From the school:

TROY, Ala. – Troy catcher Blake Martz has been suspended for the season due to a violation of NCAA rules, Troy head coach Bobby Pierce announced Monday morning.
 
Martz, a fifth-year senior from Huntsville, Ala., had appeared in three games for the Trojans this season. Neither the University nor Martz will have any further comment about the suspension.
 
The Trojans open Sun Belt Conference play this weekend with a three-game series at South Alabama.


Martz started Troy's first three games, but hadn't played since. He hit .111 (1-for-9) with a home run and two RBIs. Last year, Martz started 45 games, hitting .234 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs.

Monday recap

Back on the blog after recovering from a 24-hour virus that made me feel deathly ill for, well, 24 hours, on Saturday, and a desk shift on Sunday.

**Odd weekend for Troy baseball, losing two of three to Monmouth. Monmouth is certainly better than most northern teams and should win the Northeast Conference like it did last year, but if you're a southern team, you don't want to lose these types of series. Will be interesting to see what coach Bobby Pierce has to say about it, and how the Trojans prepare for the weekend series at South Alabama.

Sunday recap HERE and box score HERE.

Saturday recap HERE and HERE.

***Hated to see Troy women's basketball coach Michael Murphy lose his job. I don't really cover women's basketball any more, just focusing on football, baseball and men's basketball along with other duties at the Eagle, but hard to not know what was going on. Murphy is a favorite among the community, he'd give anyone the shirt off his back and is just generally a great guy. His teams battled more injuries than college teams do - of his 16 players, 13 missed at least 2 weeks of practice or game time, and his best players couldn't even practice because of injuries, but still played through it. He also didn't get much support in that he only had 2 full-time assistants, while other Sun Belt schools had 3 full-time assistants. His players stayed out of trouble and graduated. But, when you look at just 2 wins this year and 5 last year, that's usually the bottom line.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Brown says he's accepted assistant job

After going more than two months without a full football staff, Boise State Director of Player Personnel Julius Brown confirmed that he has accepted an assistant coaching position with Troy University.

I reported this on twitter Saturday afternoon, but just now getting around to posting it on the blog.

"I was offered and accepted the job today," Brown said Saturday in the e-mail.

The official announcement from Troy has not been made. Brown will fill the spot vacated when defensive tackles coach Maurea Crain was let go in early January.

Brown has been on the Boise State coaching staff for five seasons, spending three years as Director of Player Personnel and two as an offensive graduate assistant.

Brown was a three-year starter and four-year letterman at defensive back for Boise State, which has now emerged as one of the top college football programs in the country, from 2000-03. Brown is a native of Stockton, Calif.

Troy women's coach Michael Murphy let go

From the school


TROY, Ala. – Following a meeting between Troy University Athletic Director Steve Dennis and women’s basketball head coach Michael Murphy on Saturday, it was decided that the University will move in a different direction with its women’s basketball program effective immediately.
 
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Murphy and I would like to thank him for his 10 years of dedication to the University, but we felt that it was the best time for our women’s basketball program to move in a different direction,” Dennis said.  “I can’t thank him enough for his work, class and impact that he has had on so many young lives. I have no doubt that he will have success in the future.”
 
Assistant coaches Craig Kennedy and Jennifer Wasson will assume the day-to-day responsibilities of the women’s basketball program while a national search for the new head coach is underway.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday links

Got a few things of interest to share for the weekend.

I did go to Pro Day, and HERE is the story I wrote on it.

Troy had an interesting baseball game on Friday, winning 6-5 on Jakob Nixon's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Nixon wasn't even supposed to start, but was inserted at the last minute after Tyler Vaughn apparently got hurt or couldn't go. He hadn't played in a couple of weeks, but made the most of his start.

I did see the first three innings. Troy led 5-2 in the eighth, and Troy should have gotten the win for Tyler Ray, but Monmouth got some runs off Nate Hill and Tyson Workman.  Ray is 2-0, but should be 4-0.

Game recap HERE and box score HERE. Nixon and Logan Pierce had two hits each, and Danny Collins had three hits. Collins nearly had an inside-the-park home run in the first inning. He hit a line shot to center, which the CF dove for and missed. It was a pretty exciting play, but Collins got thrown out at the plate. The throw beat him, and it also looked like he got his hand on the plate under the tag.

Troy's first four weeks of baseball has brought in some good challenges. Monmouth won the Northeast Conference last year and Central Michigan was predicted to win its MAC division. Southern Miss is always good and Bethune-Cookman has been to regionals the last several years. Troy should have beaten UAB, if not for the errors, and did beat Samford, as well as East Carolina - another perennial regional team.

Troy plays Monmouth again tonight at 6. I'll be at a wedding today so may not be able to update the game on here until later Sunday night.

Troy is on Spring Break next week before Spring Practice begins a week from Sunday. Did get to ask coach Larry Blakeney if a new assistant had been hired. Nothing confirmed on my end yet, since I can't use anonymous sources, but should have something official this week, but feel good in saying Troy looked all over the country for candidates. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pro Day VIDEOS

Here are some short clips with James Brown, Jonathan Massaquoi, Jimmie Anderson and Jamie Hampton



Some Pro Day numbers

I don't have all the 40 times, but do have all the weights, verticals and bench press numbers for the Trojans in attendance. Stanley Arukwe ran a 4.19 in his first time. Sure, it was with the wind, but Arukwe is a track star with world class speed, and his second run was a 4.29. Jimmie Anderson ran around a 4.41 as well and Jamie Hampton, after all kinds of surgeries, ran a 4.53.

So, of all the Trojans who just finished up playing, here are WEIGHTS, VERTICAL (in inches) and BENCH (reps of 225 pounds)

Jimmie Anderson - DB - 167 pounds, 38.5 vertical, 13 bench
Stanley Arukwe - WR - 184 pounds, 39.5 vertical, 13 bench
Brandon Boudreaux - DE - 241 pounds, 36 vertical, 39 bench
James Brown - OL - 314 pounds, 28 vertical (didn't do bench, let numbers from combine stand)
Emmanuel Dudley - DL - 292 pounds, 26.5 vertical, 27 bench
Jeremy Elder - DL - 300 pounds, 28.5 vertical, 31 bench
Will Goggans - P - 223 pounds, 27 vertical, 10 bench
Jamie Hampton - QB - 213 pounds, 31.5 vertical, 17 bench
Wes Henry - LS - 237 pounds, 25.5 vertical, 11 bench
Brandon Kent - DB/WR - 179 pounds, 36 vertical, 14 bench
Xavier Lamb - LB - 222 pounds, 30.5 vertical, 20 bench
LaDarrius Madden - DB - 207 pounds, 33 vertical, 11 bench
Jonathan Massaquoi - DE - 261 pounds, 34 vertical, 20 bench
Brett Moncrief - WR - 222 pounds, 32.5 vertical, 14 bench
John Robles - DE - 213 pounds, 28.5 vertical, did not bench
Michael Taylor - K - 218 pounds, 28 vertical, 11 bench

Friday links

Troy's Thomas Austin delivers a pitch earlier this season / Troy University
Got to write THIS STORY on Troy junior pitcher Thomas Austin. Coach Bobby Pierce couldn't say enough good things about Austin and how much his versatility means to the pitching staff. Austin is normally going to be a reliever - though, you never know if he'll be called on in the third inning or sixth inning. Later this year, he could make a spot start.

Troy hosts Monmouth this weekend, Friday and Saturday at 6 and Sunday at 1. I won't be able to make any of the games but will try to update the results on here. Preview, with audio, live stats and game notes can be found HERE. Updated Troy stats are HERE and Monmouth, which is 4-5, stats are HERE.

I will be at Troy's Pro Day this afternoon. Not quite sure what updates or coverage I'll be able to provide, but there should be something.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Troy beats ECU

Picked one game to cover during the midweek and it turned out being the wrong one, but Troy had a big rebound win tonight against a very good East Carolina club, 8-2.

Cass Abercrombie delivers a pitch against ECU/Edward Fieder - Troy University
Trojans are looking for a Sunday pitcher and may have found it in junior Cass Abercrombie, a right-hander who hasn't pitched much over his first two years, but from talking to coach Bobby Pierce, he's thought for a while that the kid would be good eventually.

Throwing for six innings, he was pretty good. Covering high school sports in the Wiregrass, I saw Abercrombie play a few times for G.W. Long, and it was after his junior year in 2008, that summer, that I saw him pitch for the Cardinals against the East Alabama A's. Abercrombie pitched well, as you can read FROM THIS OLD GAME STORY and his summer coach, Sammy Frichter, really thought he had a future as a pitcher. I don't know if he's throwing 9-0 or not right now, but he's off to a good start. You see another couple of current Troy names in that game story from four years ago.

Read the game recap HERE and the box score HERE.

Another positive was the 0 errors that Troy committed. Troy shook things up a little, moving Danny Collins to DH and putting in Austin Golden at third. We'll see how long that sticks.

The back-end rotation of Thomas Austin, Nate Hill and Tyson Workman were flawless. Troy hosts Monmouth in a 3-game set this weekend.

Wednesday links

HERE is what I wrote from the Hall of Fame announcement. It was great to see Larry Blakeney, Don Maestri and Sim Byrd there. I hear so much about how Byrd's team, under coach Billy Adkins, was so far ahead of the time offensively and would love to sit down and watch a game tape, if one exists.

HERE is my game story from Troy's 9-7 loss to UAB. Defensive lapses were key, and the Trojans continue to pile up errors while working through it and trying to find the right combination. Good to see some young players from the Wiregrass get some big hits - Jake Harrell with his first career home run and Jo-El Bennett with a pinch-hit double. I think this team will end up being pretty good offensively, but will have to improve defensively and improve on the mound beyond guys like Ray, Hodgskin, Hill, Workman & Austin - five veterans.

Troy plays East Carolina tonight at 6. I won't be able to make it, but you should go. ECU is always a regional contender and the Pirates are 8-2. Stats HERE.

Pierce said at about 9:30 p.m. that he hadn't decided on a starting pitcher for the game. I think it'll have to be a collective effort with guys like A.J. Howard, Cass Abercrombie, William Teal, Joe Hernandez, and another arm or two.

ECU's team ERA is 1.20 but that schedule doesn't look real strong.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Troy's first Hall of Fame Class

I'm putting together a short story, but the full release is HERE.

All of the information for the induction night is in that release.

Troy has 11 in the first class. Three - Sim Byrd, Larry Blakeney and Don Maestri - were in attendance Tuesday to the introduction of the class.

Ralph Adams
Billy Atkins
Larry Blakeney
Sim Byrd
Don Maestri
Vergil Parks McKinley
Denise Monroe
Charles Oliver
Chase Riddle
Mike Turk
DeMarcus Ware

Tuesday baseball/basketball links

Tyler Vaughn at bat against Bethune-Cookman

I got to write a couple of stories in today's paper about Troy athletics. The first one is on Troy second baseman Tyler Vaughn, who went 5-for-5 in his first career start and right now looks like he's the guy unless he gets hurt or if that .727 average drops about 600 points. You can read that story HERE.

Vaughn is a great story. He came to Troy on a full academic ride with the chance to try out for the team. He came from five hours away and three states over, so it's not like he was coming from Birmingham. He made the team, but had to wait to get his shot and he delivered.

It reminds me of Bear Woods, when he had to wait to get his shot and he had 20-something tackles against Middle Tennessee in his first start of the 2008 football season. Vaughn's hair isn't nearly as long, though.

I talked to Vaughn for a while, but obviously couldn't get everything into the story. He's strong in his Christian faith, he's a chemistry major (hard enough for a regular student, let alone an athlete) and he wasn't looked at by bigger schools in high school because he was smaller than he is now and played at a small school. The thought in that area is that baseball west of Asheville, N.C., isn't real strong.

Troy head coach Bobby Pierce couldn't say enough about Vaughn. Same about pitcher Thomas Austin, whom I asked about in anticipation for a story in Friday's paper. Both are former walk-ons who have carved out a nice role on this team.

Troy plays UAB tonight at 6, and I'll be there after they announce the school's first athletics Hall of Fame members at 3. The Hall of Fame will be at the new Trojan Arena.
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Shifting gears to basketball, I did talk to head coach Don Maestri. He pretty much said the season was a disappointment, despite playing several new guys.

For more of what he said about the upcoming offseason, recruiting, next year's schedule, etc., go HERE.

It's a key offseason for Troy in the recruiting, as the Trojans are now able to get in the mix with some better players because of the new facility. If you look at the past two Sun Belt Tournaments, the best teams aren't winning the league, so getting a team that gels at the end of the year (like Western Kentucky, or The Team That Troy Swept) can go on a hot streak in Hot Springs and reach the NCAA Tournament.

Western Kentucky, seeded No. 8, and North Texas, seeded No. 5, play in the Sun Belt title game at 6 p.m. today.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday baseball notes: Vaughn rewarded, Purdy out

***Troy second baseman Tyler Vaughn has been named one of the Louisville Slugger National Players of the Week. Vaughn got his first RBI last week against Samford, then went 5-for-5 in his first start at Bethune-Cookman on Saturday and had three hits on Sunday, both Troy wins.

You can read the Troy release HERE.

Vaughn is hitting .727, and that astronomical batting average is the only thing that's surprising because you never expect anyone to hit that high. The redshirt sophomore, who is on a full academic scholarship, is Troy's best defensive second baseman and coaches believed he could still hit well enough to keep things going. He just now finally got his shot and Pierce said "no doubt about it" when asked if he'd remain the starting second

"He's played very well for us (in practice) offensively and defensively," Pierce said. "He works his tail off, he's stayed with it and he gets after it every day. He's a guy you've got to pull for."

I'll have a story on Vaughn's hot start in the Tuesday Dothan Eagle.

***Bad break for Troy junior pitcher Adam Purdy. He was going across the street from the team's hotel in Daytona to get something to eat and he stepped on the curb wrong, broke some bones on his foot, and will have surgery tomorrow, Pierce said.

Purdy, a fourth-year junior who redshirted at Auburn and spent two years in junior college, had started off slow, but was certainly going to get more chances. However, Pierce said this injury and rehab may keep him out for the entire season, though there's a small chance he could be back late.

"When you start to lose guys crossing the street, you wonder what's next?" Pierce said. "It was six-lane street and fairly busy. I had even gone across it a few times. We thought it might be just a sprain. He was jogging across, jumped on the median and just rolled it."

***Redshirt freshman Jeremy McGowan got the start Sunday and pitched into the fourth inning. Pierce said he didn't let it loose like he did in an inning of relief at Southern Miss, but pitched well enough to stay in consideration for future starts. "I was still proud of how he performed," Pierce said.

***Pierce said junior Chris Fisher would start on the mound against UAB on Tuesday, and it's still TBA for the game Wednesday at home against East Carolina.

***Younger guys like Clay Holcomb, Jo-El Bennett, Hayden Hillyer and Jake Harrell got some big at-bats over the weekend, especially the last three guys. Pierce wasn't pleased with some veterans underperforming and put the younger guys in. Pierce said it's still probably going to flip-flop at some positions based on hot streaks and matchups.

***Troy is off to a 6-4 start. UAB is 8-3, and the Blazers won their season opener at national power Clemson before losing the final two of the series, but this is another big midweek test for Troy. UAB's stats HERE. Looks like the Blazers aren't that great offensively, but are pitching well and defending.