Five Keys to Beating Troy – From the Bird’s Nest
It’s only week two but a crucial Sun Belt Conference game looms as the Cajuns head to Troy to take on the Trojans. Since joining the Sun Belt, the Cajuns have never beaten Troy at their house. If that’s going to change, here are some things that need to happen.
1. USE THE INTANGIBLES AS MOTIVATION–When you analyze a matchup in football, you look at offense, defense, special teams and then the intangibles. Those are the stories within a story. They are trends. They are emotions. In this particular game, virtually every intangible works in Troy’s favor. Troy is at home. The Cajuns haven’t won there as a member of the Sun Belt. Troy will be looking for payback after being embarrassed at Cajun Field last year. Troy has won 24 consecutive home openers. The Cajuns have lost 21 consecutive road openers. In order to overcome the intangibles, the Cajuns have to use all of that as motivation, wanting to start a win streak against the Trojans and have a desire to be the team that breaks the other streaks.
2. PUNCH/COUNTERPUNCH–Regardless of who you think the better team is, it’s a given these two teams are going to get after each other. More often than not, the home team throws the first punch. The Cajuns not only have to take that punch, they have to punch right back. They have to show Troy that playing at home doesn’t guarantee victory. And, when they get a chance to be the aggressor, they have to take advantage of that chance.
3. KEEP THEM IN FRONT–I’m talking specifically about the wide receivers. Troy has a good offense. The Cajuns can’t allow the big play, especially in the passing game. This week, the Cajuns safeties, “Tig” Barksdale and Rodney Gilles will have to cover and at times, cover in space. This will be a huge test for two guys who don’t have a lot of game experience. Coach Mark Hudspeth was pleased with their play last week. They need to do it again.
4. MAKE ROBINSON BEAT YOU–With Troy, it’s pick your poison. They can run it and they can throw it. Shawn Southward ran for over 200 yards last week. The Cajuns cannot let him get untracked. They have to slow Southward and make Troy go to the air. In the Sun Belt teleconference on Monday, coach Larry Blakeney said the team that runs the ball the best will win. I tend to agree.
5. USE YOUR STRENGTHS–Blakeney also has a philosophy that you win games with the kicking game. No one in the Sun Belt has a better one than that Cajuns. Pin em back on punts, get touchbacks, cover kicks when necessary and make field goals when the situation warrants. The Cajuns have an advantage here. They must use it. And, we need to see the Blaine Gautier we saw in the final ten games of last season as opposed to the one we saw last Saturday. Coach Mark Hudspeth says last week was all about footwork. Hopefully that’s been corrected.
We can argue about the order of numbers 2-5. But there’s no doubt in my mind the most important on this list is the first. I firmly believe when you talk about personnel and matchups, the Cajuns are the better football team. But in order to leave Veterans Memorial Stadium with a win Saturday night, the Cajuns have to do more than beat Troy.
They have to beat history.