ATHENS, Ga. (AP) The last year Troy lost its first three games, Herschel Walker was running toward the Heisman Trophy at Georgia.
That 1982 season is how long it has been since the Trojans faced the adversity of the winless team that will visit Georgia on Saturday. Recognizing Troy’s troubles, Georgia coach Mark Richt said he knows the Trojans are ”desperate for a victory, I’m sure.”
In his next breath, Richt quickly added No. 13 Georgia (1-1) is ”desperate for a victory as well” following last week’s 38-35 loss at South Carolina.
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Troy athletic director John Hartwell defended longtime coach Larry Blakeney after last week’s loss to FCS opponent Abilene Christian. Similarly, this week Richt defended offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, whose play calls late in the South Carolina game drew heavy criticism.
Georgia tailback Todd Gurley is another Heisman candidate, but the powerful junior didn’t get the call when Georgia had a first down at the South Carolina 4 with 5:24 remaining. Quarterback Hutson Mason’s 10-yard intentional grounding penalty helped set up Marshall Morgan’s missed attempt on a 28-yard field goal.
Georgia offensive tackle Kolton Houston said the loss to South Carolina left Georgia behind in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division.
”It’s a long road ahead of us,” Houston said. ”We just need to win every single week. It’s like a ladder. We can’t look ahead and try to look at the playoffs. We can’t look at the Eastern race. The only thing we can do is just, week-by-week, win that week. And that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Blakeney called the loss to Abilene Christian ”an awfully bad dream that came true.”
”Hopefully we will find a way to stay together and work hard,” Blakeney said.
Some things to know about Troy’s first game against Georgia since the Bulldogs’ 44-34 win in 2007:
QB WATCH: Troy could be without starting quarterback Brandon Silvers, who left last week’s game with a concussion. Dontreal Pruitt is the Trojans’ backup. Pruitt completed 9 of 17 passes for 99 yards while playing behind Silvers last week. Silvers, a redshirt freshman, is replacing four-year starter Corey Robinson. Troy quarterbacks have thrown 150 consecutive passes without an interception.
MASONRY TRAINING: It’s no surprise Georgia has been more successful running the ball thus far as Hutson Mason adjusts to his first full season as the starting quarterback. Mason has only two TD passes through two games, but it’s not as if he has struggled. He has not thrown an interception and has completed 70.8 percent of his passes (34 of 48).
STILL RECOVERING: Richt said receivers Justin Scott-Wesley (ankle) and Malcolm Mitchell (knee) are ”very doubtful” to play this week. Scott-Wesley has been serving a suspension for a marijuana arrest while also recovering from the injury, and Richt hasn’t disclosed the length of the suspension.
BLAKENEY’S CHALLENGE: Blakeney, who turns 67 on Sunday, is in his 24th season at Troy and has directed the program’s rise from Division II status all the way to FBS. The Trojans are 14-25 since 2010, when their string of winning or sharing five straight Sun Belt titles ended. Asked this week about the mentality of his players, Blakeney addressed the widespread discontent with the program’s struggles. ”I know that they are hurting, because I know that I’m hurting,” he said. ”Everybody on our staff is hurting. Everyone associated with our athletics department is hurting. Everybody that is a Trojan is hurting. So, I know that our team is hurting.”
THUMBS UP: Gurley will be looking for his third straight 100-yard game, but the Bulldogs may be without their second-leading rusher. Freshman Nick Chubb had surgery on Monday to repair his fractured left thumb. Richt left open the possibility Chubb could play with a cast on his hand. Georgia has good depth. Another freshman, Sony Michel, and Keith Marshall are available behind Gurley.
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