By David Fong
TROY — Every year before the football season begins, Troy coach Matt Burgbacher and his family to a vacation to Florida, where he sits on the beach and watches the waves crash relentlessly into the sand.
When he returns home from vacation every fall, he knows the next summer when he goes back — much like swallows returning to Capistrano or buzzards returning to Hinckley — he knows the tides will be there and there’s not much anyone can do about them.
Which is sort of the feeling Burgbacher gets knowing he’ll face a different kind of wave this Friday night — the Greenville Green Wave football team — he knows what’s coming, but finding a way to stop it is another thing entirely.
“You know what they are going to do,” Burgbacher said. “But the question is, how are you going to defend it? What are you going to do to stop it?”
On a homecoming Friday night at Troy Memorial Stadium, Troy (1-4) will open Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division play against Greenville (2-3). Troy’s defensive game plan will be simple — figure out a way to slow down Green Wave quarterback Clay Guillozet.
Easier said than done.
As the team’s leading passer (40 of 96 for 455 yards) and rusher (55 carries for 550 yards), the 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior has accounted for 1,005 of the Green Wave’s 1,329 yards in total offense — or roughly 76 percent.
“Anytime you are facing a quarterback that also has the ability to run, it gives the team you are playing and added dimension that is hard to defense,” Burgbacher said. “Guillozet is a great athlete. If you look at him as a basketball player, he’s on LeBron James’ AAU team — that tells you right there what kind of athlete he is. You can’t pay your way onto that team — you’ve got to be a great basketball player.
“He’s not just a football player. He’s a true athlete in every sense of the word. When he gets pressured, he can scramble and outrun the defense. He can make people miss in open space and he can lower his shoulder and run over people. If he needs that tough yard, he can get it. It’s going to be our challenge to figure out a way to try to contain him.”
Defensively, the Green Wave is led by a trio of linebackers — William Nibert, Logan Eldridge and Erick Madison — who are the top three tacklers in the GWOC North.
“Will Nibert is a very good football player,” Burgbacher said. “He’s a kid who goes sideline to sideline and has a great nose for the football. You’ll be watching film of them and then all of a sudden you’ll have to rewind the tape to see who made a tackle — because he’s coming in from nowhere to make a play.
“Their defense is stout. I haven’t seen too many teams run in between the tackles on them. Teams that have tried haven’t done real well.”
That being said, Burgbacher said there will be a renewed emphasis on the running game this week for his team. Troy is averaging 219.6 passing yards and 122.2 rushing yards per game this season.
“We are definitely going to work on running the ball more this week,” he said. “We are trying to get back to being a more balanced team like we were the first two weeks of the season. We want to be a more balanced team as we enter North play. I’d expect us to be closer to a 50/50 run/pass team this week.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong