Sunday, September 23, 2012

Troy-North Texas postgame link & final blog

Me talking to Larry Blakeney after the game / Adam Prendergast photo


Now getting settled into the DFW airport before a flight home.

HERE is my game story from Troy's 14-7 win over North Texas.

HERE is my notebook.

And this is me signing off on this blog for the final time. Thanks again for all the kind words about my coverage of Troy over the last 7.5 years. It was a tremendous opportunity and while I am looking forward to my future endeavors, I know this beat will be in good hands when we hire someone to take over, hopefully by November. Jon Johnson will be writing daily stories from here on out until someone replaces me.

I've had people ask about what the best game I saw. Without hesitation, I say Troy's 21-20 win at Middle Tennessee in 2006, when the Trojans rallied from down 20-7 in the final minutes, recovering an onside kick and converting a 4th and 17 on the final drive. If not for that game, there is no streak of five straight Sun Belt championships.

I'll see you guys from al.com if you want to keep reading me, and I hope to be at the UAB-Troy basketball game at Trojan Arena in November, and I will be at the 2013 season opener at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Thanks again to all who made this possible.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Troy-UNT game updates


 
This thread will be for some live game updates between Troy and UNT - likely just scoring and end-of-quarter updates. I'll have to head down to the field late in the fourth quarter, so will have to leave the blog for just a bit.

Personnel-wise, starting safety Chris Pickett, reserve corner TJ Bryant, reserve running back Khary Franklin are not here. Franklin is the only one of the three that I can tell you for sure is injured, but I'm sure we'll get an explanation on the other two after the game. Running back D.J. Taylor is here.

Kanorris Davis didn't start but he is here. DeVon Terry started in his place. But Davis is hurt and likely won't play.

FIRST QUARTER

5:24 - N - Derek Thompson throws a 50-yard touchdown pass to Brelan Chancellor, gives UNT a 7-0 lead. Troy has gone 3 and out 3 times so far, but had some bad news when backup right tackle Chris Hawkins suffered what looked to be a broken leg. He was carted off on a stretcher and had his left leg in an aircast. That would be 2 key OL that Troy has lost, along with Zach Johnson 2 games ago. UNT 7, Troy 0


 End first, UNT leads 7-0. Robinson hit Bryan Holmes for what would have been a deep TD pass, but he dropped it. He then threw an interception.

SECOND QUARTER
1:00 - After UNT misses the second of 2 field goals, Robinson leads the Trojans down the field. DJ Taylor made a big play on a third down reception. Later, Corey Robinson to Jaquon Robinson for 15-yard TD. 10 plays, 70 yards, 1:28 TOP. Troy 7, UNT 7

HALFTIME - 7-7 tie 

THIRD QUARTER

Troy started off recovering an onside kick, but went 3 and out. 

10:00 - Trojans did hit the big play on its second drive. Third and 6, Robinson to Chip Reeves for 76 yards on the deep ball. Reeves had also recovered the onside kick. Troy up 14-7 

5:06 and UNT misses a 27-yard FG. Mean Green have missed three field goals so far. 

End of third quarter and UNT faces a 3rd and 10 at the Troy 16. Still Troy 14, UNT 7

FOURTH QUARTER
Final ended up being Troy 14, UNT 7.
Trojans are 2-2, 1-1 in SBC play.
 

Pregame: Troy at North Texas

Apogee Stadium


 We're live at the new Apogee Stadium for Troy's road game against North Texas. It's a huge game for both teams and one both feel like they have to have to be in position for bowl eligibility at the end of the season. You can't count games like Arkansas State, FIU and WKU as automatic Ws even though they are at home, because of how good those teams were last year.

So, Troy needs to take care of North Texas, South Alabama, FAU and Middle Tennessee on the road to get to 5 wins, and then win a couple of the home games - the three aforementioned and Navy.

**Troy has running back D.J. Taylor back and he's slated to make his season debut.

**Running back Khary Franklin (upper body injury) did not make the trip.

**5:50 update, some big news, starting safety Chris Pickett and reserve cornerback T.J. Bryant did not make the trip, and no explanation given pregame for why.

Links from Denton

Realized that the first Sun Belt road game I ever covered was Troy at North Texas in 2005. The Trojans won 13-10 to snap UNT's 25-game (or was it 26?) Sun Belt win streak. UNT had talented backs Patrick Cobbs and Jamario Thomas, but Troy's Kenny Cattouse and Anthony Jones were better that night, and Troy's stingy defense held up. That was a Tuesday night ESPN or ESPN2 game. It may be at least 13-10 after one quarter tonight.

Check out the box score from the 2005 game.

The QB matchup that day featured Troy's Carl Meadows vs. North Texas' Daniel Meager. Not exactly all-conference candidates. This year, the Trojans try to cool down UNT's Derek Thompson while their own QB Corey Robinson tries to keep his steady play going.

You can read my game preview HERE.

Game preview from Denton, where UNT is confident, even as an underdog.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Troy defense giving up too many big plays

Today's story focuses on how Troy's defense gave up too many big plays against Mississippi State.

TROY – Troy gave up 457 yards in last week’s 30-24 loss to Mississippi State, but the Trojans are still smarting on giving up a big chunk of that yardage on just a few plays.

All four of Mississippi State’s touchdowns were more than 25 yards. It started with a 30-yard run from LaDarius Perkins and Chad Bumphis caught three touchdown passes from 72, 58 and 25 yards. The longest one was on a screen pass.

Perkins also burned Troy on the final drive, getting 30 yards on first down and helping the Bulldogs run out the clock.

“That’s what’s been killing us the last two weeks, big plays,” defensive end Tony Davis said. “Coach (Jeremy) Rowell talks about it all the time, eliminating the big plays.”


For the rest of the story, go here ...

Check out Brett Vito's blog on a key matchup in the game.

I'll be traveling to the Dallas-Fort Worth area today and may add some more links.

**Here's another story from Denton on UNT safety Lairamie Lee, who should run into Shawn Southward a time or two Saturday.

Thursday links

Normally I post these in the mornings, early before I even go to sleep. Maybe lunchtime was a better time after all.

Wrote THIS STORY on now starting right guard Jimmie Arnold, who has waited patiently for his chance and is taking advantage of it.

Some North Texas links, from the Denton Record-Chronicle:

UNT has been working extra on special teams.
Veterans are hungry for a winning season.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This is my last week at the Dothan Eagle



Heads up, turn your microphone up if you want to hear me. Even though my mic was up to my face, it went in and out. I talk about Troy in the beginning, other schools in the middle and my future over the final minute.

This was filmed Monday and it was the first realization that this was it for me in the Wiregrass, at the Dothan Eagle and covering Troy University. Some of you knew this, but this is my last week with the paper and the game at North Texas this weekend will be my last assignment.

I've enjoyed almost every minute of it, but I'll be moving on to a new challenge in covering UAB for the Birmingham News/al.com. I have to monitor other schools, such as Samford and Jacksonville State, but for any UAB fans reading this, rest assured, it's going to be predominantly Blazers from what I was told. I'll be at all the football games, all the home basketball games and I want to say several road games as well, but haven't been told that. I'm crossing my fingers. Basically, if UAB has something important going on, I'll be there.

I was hindered by more around here covering high schools and desk shifts and even being an hour away from Troy, was still able to get plenty of material out. I should be able to do much more with UAB and I'm looking forward to the challenge of a new fan base/readership, new school, new people to deal with and living in Hoover.

But back to being here - I can't thank Jon Johnson and Ken Tuck enough for taking a chance on someone just a few months out of college with no contacts at Troy. I think it turned out well.

Larry Blakeney, Don Maestri and Bobby Pierce, and their assistants, have been first class. I've been through a lot of their best and worst moments since Feb. 2005, when I took over and the first Troy athletics event I saw was Troy beating Jacksonville in an Atlantic Sun basketball game. It hasn't been perfect, but it's been professional.

The staff in the Troy athletics media relations department has bent over backwards to help me out, from Ricky Hazel's crew to now Adam Prendergast, and I'll miss being in the press box making jokes with the current crew while waiting for them to pass along Troy notes throughout the game.

I can't imagine many University heads taking time to help out a newspaper writer, but Dr. Jack Hawkins always made time for when I had a question and I can't thank him enough for his class and time. The University, despite not being in a great location in a huge town, has thrived under Hawkins' leadership and I expect that to continue.

I've been asked about who will replace me. I don't know that answer, but I do know they are working hard to fill it. They got corporate approval to make a hire. The job posting is HERE. We'll still have Troy stories each day, and Jon Johnson will write them in the interim. I would think this blog would still be maintained by my replacement.

In the meantime, it's been great dealing with the people, the student-athletes over the years and writing about them while watching them grow from teenagers to grown men. The best part has been the interaction with the readers, and that can still continue. I'll stay on twitter @DrewChamplin, for new followers, and I'll respect if you have to unfollow because I won't be updating Troy any more after Sunday.

My personal e-mail is dchamplin1@gmail.com, which is the best way to get me after Sunday. I start my new job on Monday, and will be fully immersed in the UAB beat on Oct. 1. I'm still not exactly sure what all I'll be doing next week. I'll have a new work e-mail, but I'm not sure what that will be yet. I just know to show up Monday at 8 a.m. for orientation.

To close it out, I just need to say thanks to everyone who made this coverage grow, and that was the readers. We'll have Troy coverage (written by someone else) on al.com, but don't forget the Dothan Eagle - I'm positive the newspaper will continue on its path to be the leading source of Troy news long after I'm gone.

From the other side: North Texas

This week we catch up with North Texas beat writer Brett Vito from the Denton Record-Chronicle. You can read Brett's blog HERE.

1. Sounds like Sun Belt coaches didn't have much respect for North Texas in the preseason poll but early returns show the Mean Green could be better. How would you assess that after three games?
UNT has played pretty well overall, hanging in there for quite a while against Kansas State and doing some good things against LSU. The Mean Green took care of the Texas Southern game like it should have. This team is right where I or any other reasonable person thought it would be.

Considering all the team lost after last season, I don't think UNT could have asked for much more. I have said all along, the whole season really hinges on the Troy game. If UNT wins, that's two W's and you can start looking down the line and seeing a pretty clear path to six wins and the end of the streak of seven straight losing seasons. If UNT loses this game, getting to .500 gets a lot tougher.

2. How has the run game look since Lance Dunbar departed?
UNT has looked pretty good running the ball. This team does not have a running back like Lance Dunbar, but its offensive line is still really good. Most of the key linemen are back. Brandin Byrd, Antoinne Jimmerson and Jeremy Brown form a pretty effective rotation at running back.

3. Troy made Derek Thompson look like Tom Brady last year. Has he built on that performance?
Derek struggled in the first couple of games of the year outside of a couple of touchdown passes against LSU, but really seemed to find it against Kansas State. He hit on 25 of his 28 pass attempts and set a school record for completion percentage in a game. The question now is if he can carry that performance over.

4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the defense?
UNT has a pretty good corps of linebackers. Zach Orr is the team's best defensive player and there is a good chance Jeremy Phillips will be back this week. He has a lot of experience. Where UNT might struggle a bit is against a good team's passing game. The whole secondary is new and the defensive front didn't get any pressure against Kansas State last week.

5. How do you see the game going?
It will be a lot like the last time these teams played. It will be close and will come down to the end of the game. It will be a matter of who makes the big plays and who doesn't turn the ball over. It could go either way.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wednesday links

As I celebrate the last time I have to take a JV volleyball call ever, I hope (more on that later), here are some links to read this morning.

Check out THIS STORY on Troy wide receiver Chris Williams. He only has one catch this year, but he's got cool hair and a nice back story. I think he'll develop into a solid player before his time is done.

CBSSports.com ranks the conferences and the Sun Belt is in some unfamiliar territory after big wins from ULM and Western Kentucky.

The press conference video and transcript from the TV room for Troy's game at North Texas.


Tuesday links

So, we're into North Texas week and I get the feeling this is a must-win game if Troy wants to still contend for a Sun Belt title and be in position for bowl eligibility this season.

For that to happen, Troy can't turn the ball over. THIS STORY focuses on that, and has some notes tacked on at the end.

From the other side, check out THIS STORY on North Texas QB Derek Thompson turning things around against Kansas State. Thompson had a monster game for UNT last year in a 38-33 win over Troy.

Our good friend Brett Vito writes about Kansas State coach Bill Snyder's praise on North Texas. Also, the one-stop shop for UNT information is Brett's BLOG for the Denton-Record Chronicle.




Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday quick notes

Pushed for time, but here's some stuff

**Running back D.J. Taylor is expected to play this week. He has returned to practice after being held out for heat issues.

**OL Zach Johnson still likely out for year (concussion). Jimmie Arnold did a good job replacing him and redshirt freshman Dalton Bennett and senior Andrew Phillips did a nice job off the bench when called upon at various positions.

**They continue to work hard on not turning the ball over and believe they can outscore anyone without the turnovers (and the yardage probably backs them up).

**Defense did fine against MSU, but gave up too many big plays, something like 200-plus yards came on 10 plays.

"It’s fundamentally our guys have to do what they’re coached to do. That’s kind of what has got us in trouble," defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell said. "One of them was on me. The first touchdown of the game. We had them second-and-long and I was calling a blitz based on one thing. Obviously, they didn’t do that. They ran a different play and we were obviously weak on it. That was my fault. I made a bad call. Wrong defense in the wrong situation right there. I was thinking screen and they ran draw. They got me.

"But a lot of the other stuff is very correctable. It’s just fundamental stuff that we’ve got to stick to what we do fundamentally and not get outside that box and we’ll be fine. Same thing the ballgame before. They got us on a couple of scheme deals the Lafayette game. A couple of them was us fundamentally breaking down on what we do. Those are the difference in the game. As I’ve looked at both of the last two games, we’ve played 62 snaps in both games. We’ve played 52 snaps really well. There’s 10 plays within that that make the difference in the ballgame, yardage-wise, everything-wise. I think Mississippi State had five explosive pass plays for 221 yards of their 244 yards. That’s where the game is won and lost at right there, from our side of it, regardless of all this other stuff. Any little thing can change that. We get turnovers here and there, we make a break for ourselves here or there, obviously everything else is adjusted with it. We’re playing hard. 


"We’re playing good. There’s a fine number of plays in there that define it. We’re not good enough to overcome ourselves a little bit on a couple of those plays and create the really good stuff for us. We have to keep grinding and keep playing."



Rowell on the two deep passing touchdowns, one where MSU receiver Chad Bumphis got past safety Barry Valcin in the second half and the fourth down touchdown in the fourth quarter when Bumphis got safety Brynden Trawick turned around:

"What happened to him on that one (in fourth quarter), it was a sprintout," Rowell said. "The guy was supposed to run the corner ball. He took that away. The guy went inside and climbed up the field. Trawick went and cut him off. The guy turned around at the goal line and looked back. He looked back with him and the guy takes off. In that situation, you can’t, obviously you can’t look back. You have to play the man. Again, that’s a fundamental error of playing. That’s one of those things. We don’t play it that way. We haven’t played it that way. You have to do what you’re coached to do and we’ll be OK. 

"Same thing happened on the play-action post ball on Barry. Double-moved him. We stay in position and stay in our petal (?) like we’re supposed to and we’re all over it. We had a guy in the face of the quarterback right there. He either has to throw it away, throw it up, something." 

Rowell was pleased with the pressure on the QB: "We were able to get to him a little bit. That was good. Obviously, hindsight being 20-20, I should have come after him a couple more times maybe in situations where we weren’t successful. That could have been the difference. I chose not to because I felt we were in a good situation with what we were doing. We had opportunities to cover them and make plays. We make those plays right there and, obviously, we win the ballgame."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Postgame links

Here you go...

Game story HERE (Troy's turnovers were the difference)

Notebook HERE (leading with short convo with John Hartwell)

Jon Johnson's column HERE (some words from MSU coaches about Troy)

**I came out of this game with a much different feeling about Troy than I did after the ULL game. Like coach Larry Blakeney said after the game, I think it CAN end up being a pretty good team and it might be a deal where the only other Sun Belt loss is against Western Kentucky. But, if they turn the ball over 4 times against even North Texas next week, the Trojans will be 1-3.

I saw Omar Haugabook after the game. He looks like a linebacker now and I'd never want to run into him in a dark alley. We laughed about the time he threw four interceptions against North Texas in 2007, and Troy had 7 turnovers in that same game, but still won 45-7. The talent gap in the Sun Belt is that where no one can turn it over that many times, or half that many times, and expect to win. He's doing well and coaching in Houma, La.

I also talked to running back D.J. Taylor after the game briefly on the field. He looks like he's ready to get back in the games and he says he's going to play this week at North Texas. I don't know if we can set that in stone yet but Troy certainly needs him in short-yardage situation because he's a bigger back than Shawn Southward.

I thought Troy was the best team on the field tonight - doesn't mean they were more talented than Mississippi State, but they moved the ball at will. If they have 1 or 2 turnovers, they win that game - or if they get a touchdown on that drive at the end of the first half, they win. MSU's defense couldn't stop Troy for the most part. Troy's defense was better against MSU than last week, but MSU's quarterback, running back and wide receiver (Bumphis) are better than anyone Troy will see in the Sun Belt.

So, it should be an interesting season going forward. Troy can play itself into an 8-win regular season with the right breaks or go 4-8 with the wrong breaks.

This was like a moral victory, though you don't want to hear it. This was like when Troy played Florida State real close. Troy has gone a couple of years from playing those teams real close, like FSU, Georgia Tech, Georgia, LSU, to getting blown out (South Carolina, Oklahoma State in '08, Florida, Arkansas in '09) to getting back competitive. Road games at Tennessee this year and at Ole Miss next year are definitely winnable.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

GAMEDAY: Miss St 30-24 Final


Crowd early in first. Filled in on top left since then some.


I can post some pictures, but my phone service is struggling to get them sent to my e-mail or twitter. Maybe that will correct itself. (6:03 p.m., finally got my service to work)

Injury-wise, D.J. Taylor and Ethan Davis still out, but I can confirm the physical existence of D.J., whom I haven't seen in a while. I don't see right guard Zach Johnson even here (Concussion) and I'd guess Jimmie Arnold starts at right guard, but we'll see at kickoff.

Long lines outside each entrance into Veterans Memorial Stadium. If they're checking for cowbells - while letting Troy students have thundersticks - there will be plenty of fans who don't get in the stadium in time.

I'll try to update this at the end of each quarter but will be on the field during the game.

END FIRST - Mississippi State leads Troy 10-7. Trojans had a nice 81-yard drive, capped off by Southward 1-yard run. Good defensive start, but Albert dropped a punt and MSU recovered at the Troy  40, and later scored.

HALFTIME - MSU leads Troy 23-7. Troy has 4 turnovers and MSU has scored TDs after three. Trojans missed a 26-yard FG by Scott in final seconds of first half. Troy outgaining MSU 322-225, Corey Robinson is 21 of 30 for 233 yards.

END THIRD - Troy cuts it to 23-14 on Southward's TD run. Record attendance at Veterans Memorial Stadium 29,013.

FINAL - MSU won 30-24, see links above. Sorry didn't get to update it toward end of game.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Game preview story

It's early in the night Friday, but figured I'd link up my preview story, which focuses on Mississippi State QB Tyler Russell and what Troy thinks of him.

You can read it HERE.

From the NE Daily Journal in Tupelo, a look at Troy.

From the Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi State hopes the 2-for-1 deal pays dividends. Also, this story on wideout Dameon Lewis.

Follow me on twitter throughout the game @DrewChamplin

Hartwell introduced as new Troy A.D.

John Hartwell is introduced as Troy's athletics director / Kevin Glackmeyer

John Hartwell is tall

Hey guys, as you know John Hartwell was introduced as the new Troy athletics director today. I was not there, but Jon Johnson was. On the surface, I am impressed with the hire. Hartwell has done a lot at a school in the most prominent conference in the country. I hope he's media-friendly.

You can read Jon's story HERE.

You can view the transcript from TroyTrojans.com HERE.

From the other side: Mississippi State

A big thanks to Brandon Marcello of the Clarion-Ledger, based out of Jackson, Miss., for his help.

1.  Why is Mississippi State playing this game AT Troy and is this a nothing to gain/everything to lose type game?

I wrote about this very topic in Friday's Clarion-Ledger. Mississippi State, first under Greg Byrne and now Scott Stricklin, have sought 2-for-1 deals since 2008. Troy will return to Mississippi State twice in exchange for this game, and the Bulldogs save a whole lot of money in the process. MSU is willing to "risk" it on the road because of the money the program saves and, also, the proximity of the game. There will be a healthy MSU contingent in the stands in Troy on Saturday.


2. Do you sense anyone looking past Troy?

Dan Mullen says the Bulldogs had a bad practice Wednesday, but bounced back Thursday. I don't believe MSU is looking over Troy. After all, South Alabama is on the schedule next week, and going on the road has prove to be dangerous in the past. Remember, MSU was down 3-0 at UAB last season before Tyler Russell supplanted Chris Relf at quarterback in the second half, threw three touchdowns and won 21-3. That game has been used as motivation.

3. What's been the biggest thing you've seen about Tyler Russell's improvement and what kind of game do you see him having on Saturday?


His confidence is much higher, for one. He threaded the needle on several throws against Auburn, and just hasn't made a mistake (save for one sack against Auburn). The two-quarterback system is gone. Dak Prescott, the backup, does play, but only in extreme short-yardage situations (third or fourth down) and when the game is out of hand. Russell has also been willing to take a few big hits, showing some patience in the pocket we haven't seen in recent years in Starkville.  It  helps having four senior receivers on the team as well.

4. What are some strengths and weaknesses of the defense?

The secondary, so far, is the strength. Three seniors lead this group - cornerbacks Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay, and strong safety Corey Broomfield. MSU has picked off five passes through two games, including a pair by Banks against Auburn. The linebackers are strong, but I'm still waiting for more sacks off the edge from defensive ends Denico Autry and Shane McCardell. Honestly, and I know this may sound crazy, but it's hard to find a weakness with this defense so far. State has done a good job of mixing up plays and confusing offenses. Auburn totaled 90 yards before MSU loosened the grip with the game in hand in the fourth quarter.

5. Under what circumstances could you see Mississippi State slipping up and actually losing this game?

If Troy gets up a couple of touchdowns early, and the Trojans can find a way to run the ball on the Bulldogs. MSU's offense did struggle at times against Auburn, especially when the Bulldogs forced turnovers. MSU did not score a single point off five Auburn turnovers. If MSU stumbles, commits a few penalties and gets down early and has to rely on the offense to get back in the game, the upset is possible.

6. How do you see the game going? 

I'm not much of a prognosticator, but I see MSU relying on its defense in a low-scoring game in the first half before the Bulldogs' offensive line wears down Troy's defensive front. I think MSU will run away with this game in the second half to move to 3-0.

Friday links

Good morning. Today is the day that new athletics director John Hartwell is introduced to the Trojan nation. You can follow him on twitter @john_hartwell. His press conference is at 11 a.m. and Jon Johnson will be there for us.

HERE is a story I wrote on how Troy looks at Mississippi State's defense.

HERE is a column Jon Johnson wrote about Troy's athletics situation now.

I'll have a Q and A posted with Brandon Marcello from the Clarion-Ledger later this morning.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pickett adjusting at safety

Real quick blog post this morning linking what I wrote, which is about junior Chris Pickett, who moved from cornerback to safety and is now starting.

You can read it HERE.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Troy has a new athletics director

His name is John Hartwell and he's spent the last nine years at Ole Miss.

Tweeted it out earlier but was not able to get to this blog until now.

HERE is our story. The school has announced the hire and he'll be introduced Friday in a press conference at the Rane Auditorium.

That story on dothaneagle.com will be updated a little with some re-wording.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wednesday feature on Kenny & K.D. Edenfield

K.D. Edenfield is hit after a catch against ULL / Kevin Glackmeyer
Wrote this story in the Wednesday print edition of the Dothan Eagle on Troy wide receiver K.D. Edenfield, son of offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield. K.D. has become a part of the receiver rotation and plays some special teams. You can read it on dothaneagle.com HERE.

BY DREW CHAMPLIN | dchamplin@dothaneagle.com

TROY – When K.D. Edenfield decided he’d walk on and play for Troy two years ago, his father Kenny, the Trojans’ offensive coordinator, figured he’d play quarterback, outside receiver or maybe even safety.

He didn’t think he’d be directly coaching him at inside receiver, but things changed for the better. K.D. Edenfield moved from quarterback to inside receiver this spring to get on the field quicker and caught his first two passes of his career for 20 yards in Troy’s 37-24 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette last week.

Troy (1-1) hosts Mississippi State (2-0) Saturday at 6 p.m. The younger Edenfield was a two-time Dothan Eagle Super 12 honoree at Charles Henderson as a quarterback. He spent the 2010 fall as a grayshirt and redshirted last year.

Now, he’s playing for his father.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” K.D. Edenfield said. “I was around him when I was younger watching him coach. Now to actually play for him, it’s been fun.”

Kenny noted K.D.’s improvement from the spring has helped him get on the field. He’s the third string Y-receiver behind veterans Jaquon Robinson and Felton Payton, but gets a few snaps per game. He also plays on special teams.

There’s no special father-son love on the practice field, but Kenny hasn’t gone out of his way to berate K.D. any more just to prove a point, either.

“I get on to everybody a lot and he’s just right in there,” Kenny Edenfield said. “If you ask all the receivers and running backs and the O-line, that’s my personality. He just catches it like everybody else.”

K.D. heard the brunt of it last week during practice when he was making a block during a screen play.

“Last week, it was pretty rough,” K.D. Edenfield said. “I thought I saw something and he saw something different.”

Later, they watched film.

“He ended up being right,” K.D. said of his father.

Kenny Edenfield said K.D. ended up being a natural fit at inside receiver.

“We’ve really enjoyed it,” Kenny said. “We thought about playing him at outside receiver but he’s really a good fit inside. He reminds me of (previous inside receivers) Cornelius (Williams), (Austin) Silvoy and Patrick Cherry because they were smart players.”

Quarterback Corey Robinson said he’s not under any special instruction to throw it to his offensive coordinator’s son, and mentioned that he had K.D. wide open for a touchdown pass but couldn’t get the throw to him.

“He’s a scrappy guy and he’s fun to play with,” Robinson said. “I’m glad I’m on his team. He was getting after it on special teams, too. I don’t know if anybody noticed that. He’s gotten a lot better.”

K.D. Edenfield is still a walk-on but that could change soon now that he’s in his fourth semester as a full-time student. Normally, walk-ons are awarded scholarships after four semesters if they prove their worth to the program.

“I’ve always said that K.D. Edenfield is a winner,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. “He just needs to find a niche and I think he has found a niche. I’ve always had a high regard for K.D. from watching him in high school and how he competed.”

Tickets still available, noisemakers to be confiscated : Tickets for Troy’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday are still available, however fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets soon as ticket sales have been brisk so far this week.
Fans can purchase tickets for the game by calling 1-877-878-WINS, by visiting the Troy ticket office or by logging on to TroyTrojans.com. Tickets are $35 for reserved seats and $25 for general admission.
Troy University will enforce the Sun Belt Conference artificial noisemaker policy on Saturday. All bags brought into Veterans Memorial Stadium are subject to search. Fans in possession of an artificial noisemaker will have the opportunity to return it to their vehicle or have it confiscated.

Saturday key matchup: Reeves vs. Banks

Johnthan Banks intercepts a pass against Auburn / Associated Press


A key matchup Saturday will be Troy wide receiver Chip Reeves vs. Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks.

Chip Reeves hauls in a pass against UAB / Associated Press
Reeves has 10 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown this year and is a great deep threat. Banks has two interceptions, both of which came last week in Mississippi State's 28-10 win over Auburn.

"They've got one of the best corners in the (SEC) and the other guy (Darius Slay) ain't too bad himself," Troy offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said. "Banks plays on our left side so he'll be on Chip for the most part.

"What they're good at is they're very athletic, they have experiences and they take chances. When you take chances, two things are going to happen. You’re going to make plays and possibly you can have things happen over the top of you. They play zone coverage and are good at reading the quarterback. We like the challenge. We did a good study this summer and we’re going to add their first two games from this season to go along with it."

Troy quarterback Corey Robinson also has a high opinion of Banks.

"Keeping it away from him, man (is what we have to do)," Robinson said. "I have to put the ball on the right spot. This week, it’s going to be the little stuff. Putting the ball a couple of inches this way, a couple of feet that way. He’s obviously a top cornerback in the nation that we’re going to see this week. I have to be on my A-game this week, just as the receivers need to. It’s going to have to be a joint effort if we want to beat these guys."

Tickets selling fast/cowbell policy

Release from the school. Good luck on getting the cowbells out.
 ----------------------------------------

Troy-Mississippi State Tickets Selling Fast; Artificial Noisemaker Policy for Saturday

TROY. – Tickets for Troy’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday are still available, however fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets soon as ticket sales have been brisk so far this week.

“We’ve been busy since we opened for business on Monday,” Troy ticket manager Scott Smith said. “Our fans are excited about Mississippi State coming to Troy and you can tell by the amount of traffic we have had on the phone, in person and online.”

Fans can purchase tickets for the game by calling 1-877-878-WINS, by visiting the Troy ticket office or by clicking here. Tickets are $35 for reserved seats and $25 for general admission.

Troy University will enforce the Sun Belt Conference artificial noisemaker policy on Saturday. All bags brought into Veterans Memorial Stadium are subject to search and fans in possession of an artificial noisemaker will have the opportunity to return it to their vehicle or have it confiscated.

Sun Belt Artificial Noisemaker Policy
For the purpose of this regulation, artificial noisemakers are defined as any item that interferes with the normal playing of the game or is disturbing to a significant group of persons who have purchased tickets. Artificial noisemakers (air horns, vuvuzelas, electronic amplifiers, whistles, cow bells, etc.) are not permissible in Sun Belt Conference arenas or stadiums - except as part of the official band. Home game management will remove such items immediately.

Tuesday links

Back to posting some links on the blog, well at least for today.

You can read THIS story on Troy preparing for an SEC school coming to town.

Some links to get caught up on Mississippi State:

From the Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi State isn't sneaking up on anyone after its big win over Auburn. Also, a scouting report on the Trojans. There may be some more content up on there by the time you read this in the morning and here is the blog.

From the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, you can read MSU beat writer Brad Locke's blog.

Here is the blog from the Columbus Dispatch.

The Sun Belt Player of the Week were ULM quarterback Kolton Browning, the star in the Warhawks' win at No. 8 Arkansas, ULL defensive back Jemarlous Moten and kicker/punter Brett Baer. You remember those guys from Saturday night. Moten had a fumble recovery for a score and when Baer wasn't drilling field goals, he was drilling perfectly-placed kickoffs and punts to help ULL dominate field position. Release HERE.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Players ready for SEC challenge

Troy QB Deon Anthony scores a touchdown against ULL / Max Oden


Every player at Troy hears about how the SEC is the best conference in America. Sure enough, they believe it, but want to see where they stand as well.


"It's important for us to get this season back on track," Troy receiver Jaquon Robinson said. "It's important for us to see where we stand as a football team. I know it's important for a lot of players to play against an SEC team, against better competition. 

"Coming out of high school, these are the guys that are supposed to be better than you, that are supposed to run faster and play harder. We want a chance to show that we can compete."

Fellow receiver Chandler Worthy, who is coming off a 154-yard receiving game against UL-Lafayette in a 37-24 loss, echoed those thoughts.


"Coming out of high school, everybody wants to be recruited by an SEC school," Worthy said. "To play against guys they feel are already better than you and you haven’t even lined up yet .. You have a lot to prove when you go out there."

Mississippi State is at least a two-touchdown favorite by most sports books. Worthy isn't surprised.


"I don’t have any problems being the underdog," Worthy said. "The SEC has won, what?, the last four or five championships out of so many. I can see why it’s SEC country, but don’t be surprised if you see an upset. That’s what I’m saying."

Troy players don't see any Mississippi State tags around campus, but see plenty of Auburn and Alabama apparel.
 

"The SEC dominates most of the talk around here," left guard Cody Woodiel said. "Hopefully, we can step up and do a good job."

The Trojans are looking forward to the challenge that Mississippi State (2-0) provides, but still reeling from the conference loss to ULL on Saturday where turnovers and a lack of a run game doomed the Trojans.


"We've got to get back on the winning track this week, and that’s what we’re planning on doing," quarterback Corey Robinson said. "We’re not going to lay down for them. We’re going to fight them. If they get the best of us, they do, but we’re going to fight until the end of the game."

 

Monday notes (injury-related)

Troy transcript from the TV room HERE.

**Starting right guard Zach Johnson had a concussion Saturday, at least his third since his senior year of high school. Coach Larry Blakeney went as far to say that his season might be over. Johnson, a sophomore, has a redshirt year but getting back to health is much more important than getting back on the field. Johnson's one of the finest kids to come through here and was the first pick in the Trojan Challenge this spring, which places a heavy emphasis on character. Johnson's helmet got hit by running back Shawn Southward on a play. Jimmie Arnold, who had a couple of starts last year, will be listed as the starter at right guard going into this game. He's a junior. They do have other options as well, such as putting Andrew Phillips at center and Kyle Wilborn at guard, or redshirt freshman Dalton Bennett, but look for Arnold to likely get the call.


"A concussion is probably the most dangerous injury you can have," Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. "It can end your career. I guess he’s had one in high school, not sure, which we didn’t know about until we had the one here (in spring). He’s a good boy and we’re going to take care of him. We are not going to let him get hurt."

Blakeney said, "Having had one this year already, it doesn’t look good for him (to) come back this year."

Wilborn said he has spoken with Johnson briefly since Saturday night. 

"It was hard seeing him go down," Wilborn said. "He’s got to look past football, what’s life after that, but the type of guy and the character that he has, I have no doubt he wants to come back."

**Quarterback Corey Robinson said he's playing Saturday despite a sprained right foot. It's not broken, thankfully for him and the Trojans. Right tackle Terrence Jones stepped on it. Robinson was limping noticeably after the game Saturday but looked much better Monday and didn't even have a walking boot or anything. He said his foot was "black" today but he's treating it and preparing to play Saturday against Mississippi State.



"He needs to practice a little bit this week," Blakeney said. "Before I came over here (to the press conference), I heard he was much better so that’s a good thing."


**Running back D.J. Taylor still hasn't been cleared to practice.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Postgame links, a few thoughts

Troy's Shawn Southward (20) stiff-arms Louisiana-Lafayette's Emeka Onyenekwu (45) / Max Oden


**Just going to post the links. GAMER, NOTES and JON COLUMN.

**Corey Robinson looked pretty beat up after coming to the press conference. He looked like he had a hurt foot (limp) and said he had his left shoulder pop out during the game and get popped back in. Corey's a tough kid though so it would be a shock to see him miss any time.

**Zach Johnson, Troy's starting right guard, got injured late in the game. I don't know what the injury was, but it didn't look good when he was coming off. Hopefully he won't have to miss any time but who knows.

**ULL radio announcer Jay Walker, who knows the league backward and forward, mentioned in our Q and A about how he felt like the Cajuns had better personnel. You may disagree with him, but he was right. To me, Troy looks like the team it used to pound during its recent success. ULL controlled both lines of scrimmage and played a bend but don't break defense. Troy had 588 yards of total offense, sure to skewer some national stats on ULL's defense, which I thought was pretty good. Troy held ULL to 389, which will improve its defensive numbers, but I didn't think Troy's defense was particularly impressive after two very good series to open the game. Bottom line, ULL did a lot of things right to win this game.

**I think ULL quarterback Terrance Broadway will be a Player of the Year candidate before he leaves. Larry Blakeney is a fan of injured starter Blaine Gautier but after the game, said it was clear to him that Broadway is better.

**Troy kicked the ball fine, but really had trouble in the return game all the way around.

**The crazy play where the young man pictured above from ULL got the interception on a shovel pass in all that traffic, Robinson described it as a play where it bounced off a lineman's back (who was laying on the ground) and the guy got it before it hit the ground. Tough to see it from where we were but it was certainly a bad moment for the Trojans.

**You know who looked pretty good with the ball in his hands? BJ Chitty. Hope to see more of that. Chandler Worthy actually had a very good game, but unfortunately it'll be remembered for that fumble which ULL got and scored a touchdown.

**On the two botched fourth down plays in ULL territory, one in the first half being down 20-7 and another in the second half on fourth and an inch, Blakeney said he felt like they needed more than just a field goal to stay in the game and felt like he was right.

**Run game wasn't good. Blakeney mentioned that he thought it looked like Troy would have a crease, but something would close at the last second or a ULL guy would do just enough to stop the runner, maybe a strong arm tackle, etc.

**Whether you like it or not, ULL isn't going anywhere south as long as Mark Hudspeth is there. He's a very fiery guy and that rubs opponents the wrong way, but the guy just builds winners. ULL and Western Kentucky are going to be, far and away, the most physical teams in the Sun Belt. And then ULM wins at Arkansas? Troy has a long road ahead and needs that facility built sooner to get some more talented players in.

**I thought the crowd of only 17,000+ was pretty weak after what Troy did last week against UAB. Not that the crowd wins or loses games, but for a home opener, those guys deserved a little bit better.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

GAMEDAY: ULL 37, Troy 24(FINAL)

Crowd roughly an hour before kick. It'll be better.

Here's a floor pic of the new Trojan Arena, which had ribbon-cutting today.

Updating this post probably at the end of each quarter. Troy's scout team safety Tyler Parker is handling internal public address duties, so we're hoping he'll shout out Troy's offensive plays as we see the formation. No running back D.J. Taylor or cornerback Ethan Davis today, as both have been out. If any new notes, I'll update.

1 - Troy - Deon Anthony 11 run (Scott PAT) - Anthony scored on a 3rd and 5 run. 7-0 Troy
1 - ULL - Blaine Gautier 10 run (Baer PAT) - ULL got most of this on the ground after going 3 and out on first 2 drives. 7-7 
1 - ULL - Jemarlous Moten 56 fumble recovery (Baer PAT) - Trojans were driving but Worthy lost a fumble forced by TJ Worthy and Moten scooped and scored. 14-7 ULL 
END FIRST
2 - ULL - 13:18 - Baer 24 FG (Broadway in at QB for ULL in place of injured starter Gautier. Harris ran for 50 yards on first play but Troy defense boggled down. ULL 17-7
2 - ULL - 7:35 - Baer 25 FG - ULL dices Troy down inside the 10, but Troy holds up there. ULL 20-7
(Troy later had a drive fail to get anything when a 4th and 2 at the ULL 9, pass was incomplete)
2 - Troy - 0:52 - Jaquon Robinson 5 pass from Corey Robinson (Scott PAT) - Trojans needed something there and got a big pass to Worthy to open drive and the TD on a 3rd and goal play. ULL 20-14
HALFTIME
QB Blaine Gautier (ribs) doubtful to return
THIRD QUARTER
3 - Troy - 9:50 - Scott 33 FG. Trojans got a 55-yard pass from Robinson to Worthy on the drive. Think going for that 4th and 2 in second quarter and missing isn't coming back to haunt them? ULL 20-17
3 - ULL - 8:16 - Peoples 9 pass from Broadway (Baer kick) ULL went quickly down the field, going 75 yards, to answer Troy's FG. ULL 27-17
3 - ULL - 3:54 - Baer 31 FG, Sun Belt record of 18 in a row. ULL 30-17 
FOURTH QUARTER
4 - ULL - 9:14 - Harris 2 run (Baer kick) This came after a ULL guy intercepted a shovel pass. ULL 37-17.
20-yard pass from Robinson to Justin Albert gives Robinson Troy's career passing record.
4 - ULL - 3:11 - Eric Thomas 5 pass from Robinson (Scott PAT) 37-24 ULL

Troy's Corey Robinson sets single game pass record with 485. He also has Troy career passing record and others today.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Trojans ready for ULL

De'Von Terry recovers a fumble vs. UAB / Associated Press
**Follow along on twitter @DrewChamplin, plus I will have a blog post update.

Here is the game preview story for Troy's Saturday game with Louisiana-Lafayette. It's in the Saturday print edition of the Dothan Eagle and on dothaneagle.com HERE.

**ULL preview - Cajuns want to be more efficient in red zone - The Advocate

BY DREW CHAMPLIN | dchamplin@dothaneagle.com

TROY – Troy will see an experienced Louisiana-Lafayette offense, but a Ragin’ Cajun defense that is supposed to be rebuilding when the two teams play Saturday at 6 p.m. in Troy’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.

But the ULL defense was stout last week, shutting out third-year FCS program Lamar in a 40-0 win. ULL gave up 194 yards total, ranking 10 th nationally after the first week, and forced four turnovers.

ULL returned only three players with double-digit career starts, led by cornerbacks Melvin White and Jemarlous Moten. White, who returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown in last year’s ULL 31-17 win over Troy, was a preseason all-Sun Belt pick.

Troy offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield feels like the Cajuns have reloaded.

“(They’re) going to be good,” Edenfield said. “All summer, all you heard about was how many they lost. Come on, now. They recruit, too.”

ULL sophomore nose tackle Justin Hamilton, listed at 6-foot-3 and 330 pounds, was a beast against Lamar in his first career start. He had four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He wasn’t the only one that stood out to Edenfield on film. Edenfield’s former college teammate at Troy and good friend Greg Stewart is ULL’s defensive coordinator.

“They fly around to the ball,” Edenfield said. “They have a great scheme. You can see they play with a lot of energy.”

Offensively, ULL returns senior quarterback Blaine Gautier, who threw for 470 yards in last year’s New Orleans Bowl. ULL took a hit with the loss of starting running back Montrel Carter to a season-ending knee injury, but have sophomore Alonzo Harris, the 2011 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year, waiting in the wings.

ULL’s receiver corps of Darryl Surgent, Harry Peoples and Javone Lawson may be as good as Troy will see this year in the Sun Belt.

“They’ve got a bunch of starters back and a lot of good players obviously they’ve added on,” Troy defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell said. “They’re going to try to control the game running the ball offensively and make some big plays down the field. We’re going to have to eliminate some of those.”

Troy gave up 459 yards in a 39-29 win over UAB, but 110 came after the Trojans got up 16 with six minutes to go. The Trojans forced three defensive turnovers and recovered a fumble on special teams.

“We still gave up some plays that we shouldn’t have given up that allowed them to score a couple of touchdowns, mistakes on our part,” Rowell said. “We’ve got to get that cleaned up but it’s stuff we can get cleaned up pretty easily.”

ULL also returns four offensive line starters, but the Cajuns’ biggest weapon could be on special teams. Kicker/punter Brett Baer was the Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week after hitting four field goals against Lamar.

A win could get Troy off to a quick start in Sun Belt play. The Trojans were able to respond to UAB’s best punches last week and counter with two fourth-quarter turnovers and touchdowns. The challenge will be to do the same against one of the Sun Belt’s top teams.

“From the (UAB) game, you could see nobody panicked when stuff started getting shaky,” defensive end Tony Davis said. “Everybody kept their poise and stayed under control. We stayed together at the end.”

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Anthony fired up for ULL matchup

Today's story on backup QB Deon Anthony. You can read it in the Friday Dothan Eagle or on dothaneagle.com HERE.

BY DREW CHAMPLIN | dchamplin@dothaneagle.com


TROY – Troy’s home game Saturday with Louisiana-Lafayette holds more meaning for backup quarterback Deon Anthony.

Anthony, who transferred to Troy after a two-year stint at Hinds (Miss.) Community College, is from New Iberia, La., which is about 30 minutes away from Lafayette and the ULL campus.

“They were recruiting me out of high school and when I went to junior college, they stopped recruiting me,” said Anthony, who grew up an LSU fan. “I know a lot of the players there, so it’s going to be huge.”

Anthony, who earned the role as a change-of-pace quarterback with starter Corey Robinson, had five rushes for four yards in Troy’s 39-29 win over UAB Saturday. He did complete both of his passes for 27 yards. Troy’s game with ULL Saturday, the home opener, is at 6 p.m.

“We had a plan all along for him,” Troy offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said. “Sometimes the course of the game doesn’t allow you to get to the plan you planned. I thought we were able to substitute him some and get his feet wet a little bit, per se.”

Late in the first half with Troy up 17-0, Anthony quarterbacked most of a 98-yard drive for the Trojans, but was pulled for Robinson on a third and goal from the 3-yard line. Robinson fumbled and lost the ball. Edenfield said the play was “designed for Corey, no matter what.”

“(Anthony) just wasn’t ready for that play, not that he can’t do it,” Edenfield said. “Hindsight is (Robinson) didn’t make a good decision there, but I think we learned more from that mistake and that error than we have all through practice.

“Now, we finally understand, ‘Here it is. Take it. Throw it away and let’s live for another down.’ To be able to overcome that and win the game, that mistake is going to help us more down the road than anything.”

With Anthony being a junior just like Robinson, he could have taken his talents to a place where a starting job was waiting for him. Coach Todd Graham recruited Anthony hard at Pittsburgh, but didn’t keep in contact when Graham left for Arizona State. UAB, under new coach Garrick McGee, recruited Anthony. Middle Tennessee also wanted Anthony, but to come play defense. Kentucky was in the mix.

Edenfield wasn’t looking for a quarterback, but was sold on Anthony by his junior college coaches.

“Well, when I first approached him, it was about playing defense,” Edenfield said. “He was not for that. The more I watched him, the more I said this guy is really, really special. My whole decision was based on, if I sign you, we’re going to give you every opportunity to play. You’re going to play.

“I think we still have some other roles that as soon as he gets more comfortable, maybe we could play him at receiver to where we have both of them on the field a little more.

"That would be something we could do down the road, but we’re not ready for that yet. It may be next year. We’d like to let him continue to get reps and continue to get better. Hopefully, we can keep this same rotation without having to make any drastic changes.”

Anthony said he’s just focused on getting better and waiting for his time to come. He could be summoned on at any time, depending on the flow of the game and the down and distance situation.

“If something happens to Corey, I have to be ready right now,” Anthony said. “I have the same focus he has. It doesn’t matter who gets the glory. I’m just trying to win games. When I go in, he’s behind me 100 percent. When he goes in, I’m behind him.”