WKU football blog: Troy week


North Texas recap:

Despite suffering its fifth consecutive defeat on Saturday against North Texas — the program’s longest losing streak in 17 years — the sentiment from Western Kentucky players on Monday remained relatively optimistic.

The Hilltoppers continued to talk about how continuing to prepare each week with a positive attitude is basically the only way this skid will be snapped.

“All you can do is go into practice each week and think you’re going to win the ball game, because if you don’t believe, you’re never going to do it,” freshman safety Ryan Beard said. “If you don’t know failure, you’ll never know success.

“We just have to win a ball game, and we’ll be fine.”

Keeping positive can’t be the easiest thing in the world for this team right now, as the devastating loss last weekend came at the hands of one of the worst teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.

But with a 2-7 record, and three remaining games against future Sun Belt opponents left on the slate, WKU really doesn’t have a choice.

“We came out of an exciting week and an exciting weekend, and once again we came out on the bad end of the stick,” junior running back Tyrell Hayden said. “And this week we’ll continue to prepare for Troy and look for good things to come.

“We’re going to stick together, and look to finish the final 25 percent of the season on a good note and send our seniors out the right way.”

Sympathy for the Hilltoppers:

If there’s anyone who knows how difficult a transition into the FBS can be, it’s Troy coach Larry Blakeney.

Blakeney has spent his entire 18-year career on the Trojan sidelines, and in 2001, he led the team through their transition from the former 1-AA classification into the 1-A level. Like the Hilltoppers, Troy’s first season as a 1-A squad was a winning one (7-4), but in 2002, the Trojans 4-8 record was one of the program’s worst in a decade.

“We’ve had some tough years in the 1-A transition, and I think it’s the toughest transition,” Blakeney said. “We went through Division 2 to 1-AA and were able to build that pretty quickly and be competitive, we went to the playoffs seven out of eight years and to the semi(finals) twice and positioned ourselves several times for another national championship, and they understand that too because they’ve won one at the 1-AA level.

“But anytime you’re playing the Alabama’s of the world and other teams inside the (Sun Belt), you find a tremendous challenge every week … and I know they’re trying to get ready for (next season) too, so it’s a ball game anyone can win and we’ve got to be as prepared as we can be.”

Troy didn’t struggle long however, as it captured its first ever Sun Belt and New Orleans Bowl championships in 2006 — just its third season in the league.


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