Saturday, September 11, 2004

Alter 14 Troy 9

Game Story

First off, to give credit where credit is due, Troy's defense is pretty good. The 35 points they gave up to Centerville last week notwithstanding (Centerville's fullback was just too much for them to handle, which happens sometimes in high school football), they've done a good job of coming up big when they need to. They stuff the run, particularly between the tackles, and they do well on pass coverage as well. That's something that hasn't been said about a Troy team for several years.

Not to put too fine a point on it, however, Troy's offense is pathetic. The Trojans have been running out of the Wing-T for as long as I've been paying attention, and they've had a lot of success with it in the past (most notably finishing the season ranked #1 in Ohio in 1996, then losing in the playoffs 13-10 to eventual state champion Lima Senior). It's not the offensive philosophy that's the problem, it's the execution. This year's group of Trojans seems intent on killing themselves with penalties and turnovers. There are times when they look so good (here I'll mention tailback Cody Boyd's 99-yard TD run last night, as well as a beautiful throw and leaping catch from QB A.J. Bush to WR Shane Carter), but often they just aren't getting it done when they need to. The defense is good enough to keep the team in the game, but the offense isn't putting up enough points to win it.

In their defense, they obviously play hard, and I think they'll get better as the season goes on. It just comes down to fundamentals, and that responsibility is laid directly at the feet of the coaching staff. Head coach Steve Nolan has been the architech of a lot of the Trojans' success over the years, and I can't remember a team of his that has been quite so fundamentally unsound. I'm hesitant to point directly to him. However, a good number of the coaches on his staff are former Troy players that he coached himself, and I don't know that that's such a good idea. It's safe to assume that they learned a good deal of their football knowledge from Coach Nolan himself, and therefore there aren't any different perspectives on staff. It seems to me like it would be a good idea to have a more diverse group. Then again, I have no playing or coaching experience, so what do I know?

Well, I do know this--offensively, I'm pretty sure I could call a better game than whoever was in charge of calling plays last night. Even with the mistakes, the Trojans were in a position where they could have won the game, and the offensive playcalling didn't exactly help.

Next week's game is at the Sidney Yellowjackets, in their brand new stadium. I'm looking forward to seeing it. Their old stadium was very old (built 1919, I believe), and it was hard to get high enough in the small visitors' stands to see over the players. I did like the old place, but the new one should be a much better place to watch a game.

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