Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Trojan Talk Tuesday night!

Just a quick reminder that the inaugural edition of Trojan Talk is tonight at 7pm along the Troy ISP Sports Network, and online at our flagship station, WTBF-FM 94.7 in Troy. We'll talk Troy football, especially the Bowling Green game, with head coach Larry Blakeney, live at a new location: Santa Fe Steakhouse on Highway 231 in Troy. The call-in number is 1-866-736-5889, and you can post questions on our Facebook page as well! There's usually a good crowd on Tuesdays at Santa Fe; let's make it a GREAT crowd this week!
Here's some audio from Monday's weekly press conference, first from Coach Blakeney, then from DE Jonathan Massaquoi, who was very impressive!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Odds and Ends

First of all, a couple of timely reminders:

I'll be channeling my inner Alex Trebek and hosting (with a welcome from AD Steve Dennis and Coach Larry Blakeney) the annual Fan Appreciation Night gala this Saturday night at 6pm. It includes, of course, a sizable drawdown, and promises a lot of fun, fellowship, a LOT of Troy football talk, and a chance to win big (they're telling me the door prizes this year are outstanding)! If you love Troy, love football in general, and maybe want to win something, call Judy Morgan at 334-670-3682 or Alicia Bookout at 334-670-3683 to get your tickets; there aren't many left!

The next day (this Sunday) will be the first chance fans will have to meet and greet the Troy football players, coaches, and cheerleaders, plus the soccer, volleyball and cross-country teams at the annual Fan Day at Sartain Hall at 2pm. There's no cost to get in, and you can score a free hot dog if you're one of the first 1,000 there. The great things about Troy's Fan Day --besides how great the players and coaches are-- is that they are very accessible and you don't have to go through a dozen hoops just to visit with them and get an autograph and picture!

You might have missed this from earlier in the week, but Ricky Hazel's well-done feature on the growth of Troy radio coverage is something we're all fired up about! Troy ISP GM Eric Williamson and the staff at ISP has worked hard to construct what is (by far) the largest radio network in the Sun Belt Conference. We have FM coverage in the two largest cities in the state, plus outlets in a lot of markets important to Troy, including Dothan and Mobile. WTBF in Troy and the oldest Troy affiliate, WOPP in Opp, have always been constantly committed to Troy, and we're proud of all the stations who will be airing Trojan football this fall!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Troy Scrimmage 8/14/10

Just got back from Troy's second scrimmage of the fall, where I watched with about 250 of my closest friends. As a rule, I usually focus on doing my job without intruding too much on the players (not because they're not interesting or not accommodating, but because they've got so much on their plate that they don't need me bothering them a whole lot), but I love just chatting with them about stuff, especially away from football. Standing on the sidelines at this scrimmage, where so many starting jobs are being hotly competed for, you gain a respect for how well these guys handle the strong competition while still keeping the good of the team foremost in their minds. At a lot of the skill positions, Troy has such significant depth that any one of 3 or 4 men can win the starting jobs, but they know ultimately they'll all share snaps and have chances to excel. Still, I hurt for them sometimes when they came off the field today after missing a block or making a mistake and knowing it could possibly mean a step backward. The coaches get to them quickly though on the sidelines; my guess it's because they see the best teaching moments can come immediately after a mistake, and they want to keep their focus on the next play, not always the last.
Because all of my work during the season comes from the broadcast booth, I love getting the perspective from the sidelines once in a while. Our home radio booth is right next to the coaches booth, so I get to see them work and plan and watch their reactions when a play is successful or not. What I sometimes forget during a game is the amazing work done by Chuck Ash, Alyson Gramley, and the staff and students of the Troy Athletic Training Staff, as illustrated at left. Whether it's at a game or at practice, they are always busy on the sideline, and have so much responsibility that I don't see how they handle everything: injury treatment, hydration, etc., plus the stuff they do away from the stadium lights: injury prevention, treatment, rehab, taping, paperwork. We were talking with Chuck on the sidelines before the scrimmage and one of the aides came over to him and said the coaches were asking about the availability of a certain player. Chuck knew his availability, the nature of his condition, and his current rehab status, all off the top of his head! Multiply that by about 105 and you begin to understand the depth of his involvement in the well-being of the Troy student-athlete. I know if you asked Coach Blakeney the unsung heroes of his program, Chuck and the staff would be at the top of his list.
On the subject of the work on the field today, Jerry Miller, Ryan Hayden, and I compared notes after the scrimmage and we all feel a lot better than we did before the scrimmage. It seemed that we were constantly looking at the roster each play, because we all noticed a lot of new names and new numbers were making a lot of plays. There were a lot of fans, too, led by the tireless Miss Anne Williams (yes, she paces at the scrimmages, too; not just at the games); I saw her afterwards and she was really proud of the former Trojans who'd played the night before in the NFL preseason games. As always, Brian, Ty, and Kinley Ross were up in the stands and rooting on the Trojans!
Another scrimmage next week, plus the annual Fan Appreciation Day next Saturday; if you haven't made your plans to be there, consider it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's a great time to be a Trojan!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Time for C-Rob to get a promotion

If the Kansas City Royals organization does not sit up and take notice of former Trojan Clint Robinson, it is certainly not because C-Rob isn’t producing on the field.
After being named the Texas League player of the month for June, the player of the week for the first week of July, and hitting a home run in the Texas League all-star game, Robinson is on a tear again.

The Dothan native has hit safely in his last nine games, but it is over the last five games this week that he has really gotten hot. Over that five game stretch he has nine hits in 19 at bats, with the six of those hits leaving the park.

Robinson has homered in each of the last five games, including two on Thursday night, and has driven in 13 runs over that stretch for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Class AA affiliate of the Royals.

For the season Robinson is hitting .316 with 24 homers and 80 RBI. He also has 34 doubles.

It is certainly time for him to at least get a call up to Omaha. If the Royals don’t have plans for him, they need to try to trade him.

More Minor League Updates

With the middle of August on us and most people in Alabama focused on football practice, there are still plenty of Trojans fanned out across the country playing baseball.

Here are some updates.

Mike Rivera, Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA) – Rivera got moved from Class AA Chattanooga by the Dodgers when Russell Martin was placed on the DL and lost for the season by the big-league club. In five games in Albuquerque he is hitting just .176 with a homer and an RBI in five games. He was hitting .257 for the Lookouts in 58 games with a pair of homers and 22 RBI.

Beau Brooks, Arkansas Travelers (AA) – After a second short stint with the AAA club in Salt Lake City, Brooks has played 12 games in Little Rock. He is hitting just .189 with no homers and three RBI in AA. His combined stats for the year, from three teams, are not great, but the Angels are very high on him. In 70 games this year he is hitting .163 with three homers and 21 RBI.

Chris Sorce, Everett AquaSox (A) – Sorce continues to shine as a starting pitcher. He has a 5-2 record in 10 starts with a 4.03 ERA. He has won his last two starts, during which he has allowed just five earned runs in 14.0 innings. He struck out a season-high nine in his last outing and has 48 strikeouts in 58.0 innings of work this year.

Chase Whitley, Staten Island Yankees (A) – Whitley has been as dominating for the Baby Bombers this summer as he was for the Trojans last spring. He has appeared in 22 games, all in relief, and has a 4-2 record with a 1.69 ERA with 11 saves. He has recorded 36 strikeouts in 26.2 innings of work.

Ryan Ditthardt, GCL Astros (Rookie) – After getting off to a fast start, Ditty has settled into a nice pace with the Astros. In 29 games he has a .322 average with a homer and eight runs batted in. He also has five doubles and a triple.

Jason Walls, AZL Giants (Rookie) – Walls has made 10 total appearances this summer, all in what looks to be a set-up role. He is 2-0 but has a 5.40 ERA. He has nine strikeouts in 10 innings of work.

Steven Felix, AZL Brewers (Rookie) – Felix has seen action in just six games as a catcher since getting to Arizona. He is hitting just .111 with no homers and three RBI.

Adam Godwin, New Jersey Jackals (I) – Since joining the independent Jackals in the Can-Am League, Godwin has been the teams’ best player. He leads the active roster with a .352 batting average and has three homers and 20 RBI in just 26 games. He also has five doubles and three triples and, of course, is stealing bases. He has swiped eight bags in 10 attempts.

Josh Dew, Chico Outlaws (I) – Dew has continued to pitch well after his Golden League All-Star game appearance. He is 4-1 on the season with one save and a 3.31 ERA. He has 40 strikeouts in 38 innings of work. In addition, he is also hitting .500 (4-for-8) with four walks and three runs scored.

Dew is getting a chance to see more of the west coast than I am sure he ever imagined he would. The Outlaws play in the North Division of the Golden League. The other four teams in his division are in Canada. The league’s south division includes teams in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Tijuana, Mexico.
The pace is picking up! The Troy scrimmage Saturday is set for 10:30am, and the radio crew will be there watching it. I was down last week with ISP videographer John Mitchell for a marathon session taping our player features that will air on "The Trojan Football Report" TV shows throughout the season with Coach Blakeney. We interviewed 15 Trojans about their lives off the field and came away very impressed! Some, like Jerrel Jernigan and Tyler Clark, have been subjects of features last year and knew the routine, but some were interviewed for the first time and were very impressive; I learned that LB Donnell Golden (who's in our prayers) relaxes by playing the steel guitar; Clark, QB Jamie Hampton, LB Xavier Lamb, and OL Nate Newland spent the summer traveling together to several Christian outreach events; and RB DuJuan Harris loves the movie "Gladiator". The segments are one of the most popular parts of our weekly shows. I'll get you a listing of times and TV/cable outlets they'll air on!

Yes, our radio crew is together again for the fifth straight year; Jerry Miller will again handle color commentary, Chris Blackshear is on the sidelines and in the post-game locker room, Mike Mote is the studio host, and Michael Buchanan is our broadcast producer. The only change at all comes off-the-air, with our new spotter coming in, Ryan "Pokey" Hayden. For the second straight season, we have a two-hour pregame show on radio that'll start at the Green Tailgate Terrace, which is newly improved and landscaped this year!
Nothing against any of the other radio broadcasts that cover Sun Belt Conference schools, because there are some phenomenal play-by-play broadcasters in this league, but my opinion is that no one offers more extensive programming, or on a larger network, than Troy. The last count shows that our football network is at 15 stations, our basketball network is 4 stations, and our crew (with Jerry, Chris, Mike, Michael, and Ryan) works harder, and has more fun doing it, than any other crew I could name!

The annual Troy Football Appreciation Night is August 21st at the Stadium Towers and I'll be emceeing that; it's always a lot of fun. As we lead up to the season, I'll have the weekly TV show information for you, as well as the latest radio affiliates (we've got GREAT updated coverage now in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile), and some more insight into the start of the 2010 Troy football season. Make sure to check back. As always, you can follow on Facebook and on Twitter.

Friday, August 6, 2010

From the Press Box: Morning Sessions Working Well

11:36 A.M., FRIDAY, AUGUST 6, 2010

The Trojans completed the first week of fall practice with another morning session that was completed in right at two and a half hours.

Now two days into the new practice time of 8:30 am, the team appears to be adjusting well to the better conditions.

“I’m planning on staying with this morning session scrimmage,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “It’s just a lot less humid. It’s still a little warm and you get a little breeze, then we have implemented a little Powerade break. I think it’s really helped us having that at the midpoint.

“I think it’s the best thing we could have done considering everything. Maybe we have learned something that can help us in the future.”

Five days into practice means the end of a work week and the first Saturday scrimmage of the fall for the Trojans. While some of Troy’s stars may be held out, it will be a good opportunity for some lesser known or younger Trojans to shine and the team as a whole to take a big step forward.

“We will probably hold some folks tomorrow, so it may not be totally realistic, but we are just trying to find some folks who will take care of the ball on offense and make plays,” Blakeney said. “Defensively, they have to know what to do and tackle. Then of course we want to make sure we get some good solid work on special teams. We devote a lot of time to special teams, so there is no reason for us not to be a good special teams unit.”

The scrimmage is set for 2:30 pm in Veterans Memorial Stadium. Stay tuned to TroyTrojans.com and @TroyAthletics on Twitter for all the latest information.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

From the Press Box: Trojans Get Some Early Morning Work

1:57 P.M., THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 2010

Less than 12 hours after concluding Wednesday night’s session, the Troy Trojans were back at it on Thursday morning with a new start time of 8:30 am.

Despite the quick turnaround, the Trojans showed no ill-effects and put together a strong effort.

“I thought we had a good practice this morning,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “Certainly, this early time is not perfect, but everybody was pretty energetic. I went to breakfast and they were all in there."

The earlier practice time allowed the Trojans to evade some of the increased humidity often seen later in the day and also dodge the late afternoon showers that had plagued the first three days of practice.

The morning session also gave the Troy squad an idea of what they are missing by not holding two-a-days during fall camp.

“It was pretty nice out here early, then got kind of hot,” Blakeney said. “The main reason we don’t do two-a-days is because you don’t really get enough to sustain anything. Basically, that little two-a-day flip gave them a taste of it.”

The Trojans will practice in full pads for the first time on Friday morning in their final meeting before holding the first scrimmage of the fall on Saturday at 2:30 pm. Stay tuned to TroyTrojans.com and @TroyAthletics on Twitter for all the latest information.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

From the Press Box

8:56 P.M., WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2010

The Trojans were back at it again on Wednesday night, but this time the temperatures were significantly cooler following an afternoon storm that blew through the Wiregrass leading up to the start of practice.

The four-time defending Sun Belt champions completed a two and a half hour session with their first 11-on-11 action wearing shoulder pads.

“Luckily, the weather hit us early today with a big time thunderstorm and lighting with some heavy rain,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “But this field loves the rain. It just rolls right off. It did cool down everything, there was a little light breeze and it wasn’t near as humid. We already had the mid-practice Powerade break setup and I think it helped the guys. We are hoping to get the same kind of break tomorrow.”

The Trojan receivers dealt with several dropped balls during the 11-on-11 portion, something Blakeney attributed to concentration, not a by-product of wet conditions.

“I don’t think it was wet as much as it was concentration,” Blakeney said. “I did notice several drops. You can holler at them and tell them to catch five in a row and they will go do it. All that has to do with is fundamentals – looking the ball in and tucking it away. I saw two or three kids drop them tonight because they looked to run with it before they caught the ball.”

With the threat of afternoon storms looming the rest of the week and the coaching staff also seeing an opportunity to escape the sweltering heat encountered on Tuesday evening, the Trojans will shift to 8:30 am practices the rest of this week and on Monday.

On Tuesday, the team will adjust to their regular fall schedule with practice being held mid-afternoon.

Troy's first scrimmage is still set for Saturday at 2:30 pm in Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Remember, you can stay on top of all things Troy athletics by following @TroyAthletics on Twitter and staying tuned to TroyTrojans.com.

NOTES: Senior linebacker Daniel Sheffield (ankle) and sophomore offensive lineman Lance Gunn (knee) both missed Wednesday night's practice … Redshirt freshman Corey Robinson spent the 11-on-11 portion of practice running with the first team unit.

Football Camp Is Off And Running

The Trojans have opened the "Drive for Five" with the start of football camp, but Mother Nature has not been very helpful early on.

The Trojans were to have opened camp on Monday afternoon, but a major lightening storm hit campus about 5 p.m. and lasted well past 7 p.m. when practice was canceled.

On Tuesday the team was able to get through a full session without precipitation, but there was plenty of perspiration thanks to a heat index that topped 115 degrees. The thunderstorms did hit Troy after practice, with some major lightening around 10:30 p.m.

As I write this blog entry on Wednesday, there are thunderstorms popping all over Southeastern Alabama and it is raining at Veterans Memorial Stadium. While a little rain won't be a problem, the fear is that there will once again be lightening, which will keep the team off the practice field.

So, I received a call from Trojans head coach Larry Blakeney just a little while ago, letting me know of changes to the practice schedule for the next few days. The team will go out at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday before Saturday's scrimmage, which is still set for 2:30 p.m.

After an off day on Sunday, which will include the annual team outing to Lake Simmie, the Trojans will again practice at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. They'll return to afternoon practices on Tuesday with the fall semester set to begin on Wednesday.

We'll keep you posted on fall camp through the blogs that both Taylor Bryan and I will be writing, through Twitter and Facebook and through official releases on the web site. You can follow me on Twitter at @TroySID and follow Taylor @tabryan. The official Troy Athletics Twitter feed is @TroyAthletics.