TROY – Chip Lindsey has talked all week about playing “clean” when his Troy Trojans scrimmage for the first time Saturday morning.
“It’s real important,” the coach said after the Trojans worked out early Friday morning. “I want to make sure that we get the right people on and off the field, make sure we execute our routes, make sure our quarterbacks are going to the right place with the ball.
“On defense, make sure we don’t bust coverages, make sure guys are in the right gaps, just basic. I think that’s what you do in a first scrimmage.”
With the base offenses and defenses installed, the Trojans are going to use the opportunity to evaluate and educate, Lindsey said.
“Hopefully we’ll have a lot of blocking and tackling. That’s what we want to see in the scrimmage – who can block, who will tackle,” the head coach said. “It’s not going to be about trick plays or some funky blitz. We’re going to try to play old-school football and see where we’re at.”
Defensive coordinator Brandon Hall will be looking at one crucial area above everything else.
“I want to see who can tackle in space,” Hall said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for us. We’ve got a lot of our defense installed, so a lot of the MAs (missed assignments) are starting to get less and less. I just want to see who can and can’t tackle.
“It’s one thing to go out here in 7-on-7 and play well, but all of a sudden now you’ve got to get guys on the ground. For me, that’s the biggest part because at the end of the day, it’s about effort and tackling on defense.”
Troy linebacker Carlton Martial and quarterback Kaleb Barker both talked about the speed of the game increasing in a scrimmage.
“It’s more full-speed than it is in practice, if that makes sense,” Barker said. “Guys are actually tackling to the ground. There’s not a lot of trash talking, ‘Hey, I would have made that tackle,’ or ‘I would have broken that tackle.’ You have to do it.
“And the speed of things is a little bit faster in scrimmages. It’ll be good for the young guys and it’ll be good for me, too, getting back in the rhythm.”
Martial said Troy’s younger and less experienced players will benefit the most.
“They’ll get a nice feel for how the game’s going to be played,” Martial said. “It’s a different pace than practice. Practice speed, you’ve got the coaches out there trying to coach you on this and that between plays.
“When you’re out there in a scrimmage it’s like a regular game. They won’t be there to correct you. You’re on the field with your 10 other brothers.”
Lindsey added it’s a crucial evaluation day for Troy coaches. The depth chart could look different on Sunday.
“We have a team that’s got some guys back that have played. We’re trying to figure out can any of these newcomers help us? Is there any of these young guys we might need? And we’ll see where they’re at, too,” the head coach said.
“There’s still a few spots, especially in the secondary, at receiver and up front always that we need to see. ‘Can we feel comfortable putting this guy in a game? Does he know what to do? Can he execute?’ That’s kind of what we’re trying to do with the scrimmage.”
Barker said the work won’t just help the new guys. He said playing at the increased speed will help him get back in the rhythm of a game.
“I’m ready to go. I’m trying to attack every day and not take one for granted, me being a senior,” the quarterback said. “Going into today I definitely feel more comfortable (than this time last week).
“We’ve made strides each practice. We’ve had ups and downs, but like coach Lindsey said, these last two practices I feel like we’ve really grown a lot.”
Barker agreed that the Trojans’ energy and enthusiasm was better at Friday’s practice. The earlier practice beat the heat. Troy had to finish early because of a mandatory campus-wide 10 a.m. convocation. It wasn’t as long a practice.
“I think the reason the attitude was up today was it’s starting to kick in that, ‘Hey, we’re playing in three weeks,’” Barker said. “I think that’s why these guys are pushing through. We need to really keep pushing in these last couple days before school starts (next Wednesday) and make sure that our team’s ready to go on the 31st.”
Martial said he wasn’t looking ahead that far.
“We’ve got to focus on the next day, next day, next day,” the linebacker said.
And when the “next day” is a scrimmage?
“Oh, that’s awesome,” Martial said.