Tuesday: The opponents...Troy University
GAINESVILLE -- An MTV reality-show starlet is coming to Gainesville. Anyone remember Two-A-Days, the MTV reality show about the high school football team in Alabama. It was a terrible show; gag-on-your-bubble-gum bad but (for what it was worth) a perfect portrayal of Hoover, Ala. I'm an expert on these things, unfortunately. My high school, Irondale Shades Valley, beat Hoover by about 50 points my senior year. Hoover's coach was fired after that season and Rush Propst, the coach on that reality show, was then hired.
Anyway, one of the football players on the reality show was named Cornelius Williams (pictured). He was Hoover's top wide receiver in the Bucs' no-huddle spread offense. Williams is now a sophomore wide receiver at Troy. He had two catches for 20 yards in the Trojans' Week One 46-26 loss to Arkansas. Williams was best remembered from the reality show for playing quarterback one week when the team's starter was injured. (I read this on wikipedia.) The Hoover-Troy connections go deeper than Williams. Troy's offensive coordinator, Tony Franklin, designed Hoover's offense, which won four Alabama Class 6A state championships in six years.
The man who will be leading Troy's offense, senior quarterback Omar Haugabook, might be a little more familiar to South Florida football fans. Haugabook starred at Belle Glade Glades Central a few years back. He got his collegiate start at Dodge City (Kan.) Community College and then surfaced at Troy last season. Recruited by Franklin to run his no-huddle spread schemes, Haugabook lead the Sun Belt Conference in passing and was named the league's player of the year. The Trojans' offense was last in passing yards in the Sun Belt before Franklin and Haugabook arrived.
Much like Florida's spread-option offense, Troy distributes the wealth to a variety of receivers and playmakers. Haugabook completed passes to 10 different players against Arkansas and also rushed the ball nine times for 47 yards. It seems Florida's young defense will receive its first real test of the season this week. With that in mind, Florida is hurrying back sophomore cornerback Markihe Anderson to the starting line-up. Anderson (pictured) was a starter after fall two-a-days but then injured his knee and missed the season opener. Meyer said on Monday that Anderson is likely ready to rejoin to the team. Official word will come on Wednesday.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Troy vs. Arkansas
20: The number of first downs Troy gained against Arkansas. Translation: Troy will move the ball against Florida.
49: Number of passes Troy attempted against Arkansas. Translation: These guys throw it around.
4.4: Average yards per pass. Translation: I like to call this a paper-cut offense. How many paper cuts does it take to kill a man?
75: Percentage of touchdowns scored (3-of-4) when Troy reached Arkansas' red zone (inside the 20-yard line). Translation: Troy's senior quarterback knows how to get the job done.
1: Number of turnovers against Arkansas. Haugabook tossed an interception. Translation: Troy protects the ball well. Florida didn't force a turnover against Western Kentucky.
DID YOU KNOW? The porn industry indirectly helped finance Troy's new stadium. Movie Gallery owner Joe Malugen is Troy's biggest booster. Malugen, who's movie rental business is the nation's second largest behind Blockbuster, graduated from Missouri. He started his business in southeastern Alabama and the Florida panhandle, however, and donated $5 million to Troy for naming rights of the Trojans' new stadium. The stadium, Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium, seats 30,000 and resembles a miniature version of Ohio State's U-shaped stadium. Troy, formerly Troy State, won a pair of Division I-AA national championships before jumping to Division I-A in 2001. Troy has competed in two bowl games. It lost to Northern Illinois in the 2004 Silicon Valley Football Classic and beat Rice in the 2006 New Orleans Bowl.
HOMECOMING FOR MANY Troy has 29 native Floridians on its roster. The only Division I-A football team (excluding Florida schools, of course) with more kids from the Sunshine State is Army, which features 30 players from Florida. Troy's South Floridians include Haugabook, Trevor Ford (Miami Northwestern), Romanique Lewis (Fort Lauderdale Piper, pictured) and Kennard Burton (Pahokee).
Q & A: Miami Northwestern alum Trevor Ford. Currently a back-up cornerback for the Trojans, Ford saw action on Saturday in the Trojans' loss to Arkansas, recording two tackles and forcing a fumble. A proud Miami Northwestern alum, Ford was the No.6 cornerback recruit in the nation upon graduation. He played at Florida State before transferring.
A: "I'm just getting the feel back right now. It felt so good to get out there, though. I was glad to be back on the field making plays."
Q: "Why did you leave Florida State?"
A: "For personal reasons. I haven't decided to make that public yet."
Q: Your old high school is ranked No.1 in the country and plays a pretty big game against South Lake Carroll (Texas) coming up. Been keeping up with the [Northwestern] Bulls?
A: "Have I? I'm so proud of those guys. I can't wait until this Texas game. I've been cheering for them and running my mouth up here about the Bulls."
Q: Big fan, eh?
A: "I've got a tattoo on my neck of a Bull if that tells you anything."
Q: Miss Miami much living in nowhere Alabama?
A: "On the record?"
Q: Yeah, that would be nice.
A: "In Tallahassee it was a big change for me. I guess the biggest thing is not being near the beach. I used to always go to the beach, so I miss not being less than 20 minutes from the beach."
Q: What have you learned about yourself after graduating high school?
A: "That you never know until you try something. That's what I've learned coming here from Miami. It's in the country and there aren't buildings everywhere but it's nice. The coaches are nice and I like it. You never know until you try it."
WHERE THE JUCOs GO Ever wonder where all those junior college football players go after they've finished their turn on the community college circuit. They all go to Troy, of course. The Trojans' travel roster features 18 players whose collegiate careers started somewhere else other than Alabama's sawgrass university. Chris Baldwell, a senior defensive lineman from Jacksonville, is well traveled. Troy is Baldwell's fourth school since graduating high school in 2002. He has gone from Hargrave Military Academy to Florida State to Northeast Mississippi Community College to Troy. In unrelated news, Baldwell must really be undecided about his major.