Well, this obviously wasn't the way Trojan fans wanted the Scot Brewer era to start. And a tough way to lose, too: leading 14-13 late in the fourth quarter, Troy's defense forced CJ into a 4th and 19 situation; for once, they didn't get any pressure on CJ's quarterback, and he threw a long pass that went for a TD. It looked like Troy's DB had a great shot to make a play on the ball, but he couldn't, and that was it.
Still, it's not the end of the world. CJ's a good team with a lot of talent—they'll make some noise in D-IV this year. The Trojans had some breakdowns here and there, but overall I thought they played really well. They definitely played hard. I really like the way our defense gets after it, swarming the ballcarrier on every play. That's been a hallmark for several years, and the main reason I was an advocate of Brewer stepping up from defensive coordinator to head coach. It seems like he gets guys to play really hard, and you have to like that.
The change in the offensive scheme is going to take a little getting used to, especially for someone (like me) who has never seen the Trojans play under anyone except former coach Steve Nolan. The Wing-T is gone, replaced primarily with an I-based offense, with some spread mixed in for hurry-up situations. I will say, that was one thing that was nice to see—when the Trojans got the ball shortly before halftime, they actually made an attempt to do something with it instead of running out the clock and getting into the locker room (as was the norm under Coach Nolan).
Of course, the style of play isn't the only thing that's undergone a change with the new leadership. One thing that's new this year is the rock/pop music playing over the stadium's loudspeakers during pregame warmups. I'm very much in favor of this, myself. I like it, and I imagine the players do, too. The older fans in the stands, however, not so much. Overheard: "I've been coming to games here for sixty years and I've never had to put up with that before." Well, there's a new sheriff in town, folks. I hope this one sticks.
The new helmets, on the other hand...well, let me just preface this by saying that I love the Trojan Star logo (it's the only thing I'd ever seriously consider having tattooed onto my body), and I've always loved Troy's silver helmets with the star on each side. The new ones are still silver, but have a broken and tapered red stripe down the center, and the sides feature TROY in red block letters. They're not bad, by any means (anything that's red and silver, I'm all for), and maybe they'll grow on me. But if they happened to go the way of the faux-star they tried to foist on us a few years back, that would be just fine. I am looking forward to seeing the new away uniforms, featuring black pants for the first time, next week, however.
Beyond that, I feel like the Trojans played with more energy and emotion than usual. Maybe that's just because it was week one, the first game under a new coach, or whatever. But it always seemed to me that Coach Nolan's teams were all business. Tonight, they just seemed to have a different vibe.
And I don't say that, or any of this, as a knock on Coach Nolan. I was a big fan, and always loved the way his teams played. But I'm excited for a changing of the guard, excited to see what Coach Brewer can do. His day is coming. It looked for a while like it would come tonight, and it's disappointing that it didn't. But I think he can be proud of the way his Trojans played for him.
Of course, it doesn't get any easier next week. The Trojans take to the road for the first time, visiting the Braves of Springfield Shawnee, last year's state runner-up in Division III. Troy hasn't played them before (at least, not in the 20+ years I've been paying attention), but I have no doubt it'll be another tough battle. We'll just have to hope it has a better outcome.