Troy studied Auburn and Tulsa to prepare for Tigers

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Head coach Larry Blakeney has been at the helm of the Troy program for 20 seasons, and in that time he has seen the school from Division II to Division 1-AA to their current position in the FBS, and he has taken his players to play everywhere from Valdosta State to LSU.

Blakeney says that he hopes his players won't be intimidated by Clemson this Saturday when the teams meet in the season opener, but he also knows his team will have to play especially well if they want to knock off the Tigers.

“I don’t think we are scared, but if you made everybody swear on a Bible you might find out they are,” Blakeney told TigerNet in an exclusive interview this week. “There is a reason nobody likes to lose, and fear is a great motivator. If you view that fear as a positive, maybe you can play as good as you can, especially against somebody like Clemson in a place like Death Valley.

“We are young in some very critical areas, but we are trying to get them ready to do their part. I don’t know how it will turn out, but we are going to line up and create some situations that are favorable to us. Maybe they will get us, and maybe we will get them some. That is why we love college football - no matter how high you are or how low you are, you still have to line up and play. Everything is decided in a 60-minute period in history.”

Blakeney said that he knows his team doesn’t have the depth of athletes like Clemson, but he thinks there are areas on the field where they do match up.

“I know that we don’t match up man for man, but we do match up well in some areas,” he said. “What we have to do is make those areas an advantage for us. We just don’t need to do anything stupid or turn the ball over, or give up big plays early. We need to just take that approach and settle in, because we have some players we think can make a difference.”
Blakeney said his staff has spent a lot time watching film of Clemson, and he believes the Tigers have two big assets – athletic players who are coached well.

“I see athletes and speed and players who know what they are doing,” he said. “They have some great coaches on that staff now, and I have known most of them for a long time. I am certainly impressed with Clemson, and I always have been. When you see their players, you see guys that play with speed and size in critical areas. Hopefully, they are not quite as well-oiled as they need to be or want to be.

“What we need – and what I am counting on – is that we have to take care of the run both ways. We have to stop it, or blunt it to an extent. We can't give up the huge runs or consistently give up six, seven or eight yards at a time. And we have to make plays in our running game. If we do that, and don’t turn it over and kick it well, then we have a chance.”

He said that Clemson’s hire of offensive coordinator Chad Morris has caused his defensive staff to look at game film of three different schools – Tulsa, Clemson and Auburn.

“We looked at Tulsa and Clemson, but we also studied Auburn a little bit because we know he [Morris] has been a partner with [Gus] Malzahn,” he said. “We have tried to figure that out, and we know they are both guys that can make anything they want out of an offense and they are similar in that regard. In the spread, you have to be all the way in or all the way out – you can’t be halfway into the spread. You have to go with what you can do. Malzahn and Morris both want to run the football, and they both do a good job of scheming ways to run the football.”

Both teams have a lot of new players on the two-deep rosters – Clemson with true freshmen and redshirt freshmen and Troy with junior college transfers and freshmen – and Blakeney said that makes it harder for both teams to prepare.

“That’s true, they do have some younger guys and they have some guys who are sophomores and juniors who haven’t started,” he said. “We are the same way, and younger players don’t always know what they are doing. We both have to hope we have them coached up and they respond on game day. But the younger ones are more apt to make a mistake in the game. We have to be able to overcome that.”

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