By Fred Parnell, Juniata Football Past & Present
MIFFLINTOWN, PA -- A new season begins for Big Red. Along with it comes a new opponent and a long bus ride. I guess I should go on record how I feel about this team at this point. I feel that this is a partial rebuilding situation for the Indians and their best football is going to be played in the second half of the season. Unfortunately, the first half of the schedule is the toughest portion of the schedule.
So, what about the Troy Trojans? Well, they are a good football team. They were good last season and lost very little to graduation. Their season came to end last year in District play as they fell to Southern Columbia. No shame in that; everyone falls to Southern Columbia.
Troy loves to pound the football. Last season, 83% of their offense came via the running game. They threw only when forced to. And one half of the rushing yardage was provided by returning running back Clayton Smith, a 5’8” 175 pounder. He is a handful! Smith is fast but not a speed burner. He is also just elusive enough to slip tackles. Much of his success has to be attributed to his offensive line, as on many of his long runs, he got past the line of scrimmage without being touched. And a couple of last season’s linemen have graduated.
On defense, they were good, but not great. Much like the Indians, they played some teams that frankly just weren’t very good.
So, how does Juniata beat Troy? I think two things have to happen for Big Red to come out on top. Offensively, they need to present a balanced offense. Traditionally, we rely on the running game to win football games. I don’t think that will work against Troy. We need to establish a creditable passing game. I think we have the personnel to do that. We just have to execute.
Defensively, we positively cannot allow Smith to run wild. Our defensive line has to slow him down. And even more importantly, we need to put the Trojans in some 3rd and long situations. If we do that, some good things just might happen.
I would feel a lot better about this game if it was being played in week #7 instead of week #1.
So it all boils down to Juniata having less room for errors than Troy. Can they win this game? Yes, they can. Will they? Well, that’s why they play the game..to find out.
I think it’s going to take three three touchdowns plus to win this game.
With the game being moved to Saturday night, hopefully Juniata will have a big following. But for those of you who like me can’t make the trip, Juniata County Radio will have the game live. Ethan Jamison, Quincy Piper and Seth Dowling will have the call.
JUNIATA COUNTY RADIO