By David Fong
TROY — When Troy linebacker Sam Jackson recorded a staggering 25 tackles against Xenia in Week 2, it seemed pretty unlikely anyone on the Trojan roster would be able to replicate another 20-tackle game in the same season.
Hello, Blake Burton.
Burton, a senior inside linebacker for the Trojans, turned in a monster game of his own in the Trojans’ 49-14 victory over Tippecanoe last Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium. Burton finished his game with 23 total tackles — 14 solos and nine assists — to go along with one sack, one tackle for loss and one tackle inside the 20 on a Troy kickoff.
Burton’s numbers are all the more impressive considering Tippecanoe ran 58 plays from the line of scrimmage and returned eight kickoffs — Troy didn’t punt the entire game — for a grand total of 66 plays. That meant Burton picked up a tackle 34.8 percent of the times the Red Devils touched the ball. Burton’s efficiency is even higher when one considers he was on the sidelines for a large portion of the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
“Blake Burton had a fantastic game,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “He’s another one of our linebackers who has a nose for the football. He makes plays every time he’s out there.”
Truthfully, all of Troy’s linebackers feasted Friday. Jackson finished the game with 18 tackles — nine solos and nine assists — two sack and two quarterback hurries. Shane Shoop finished with 14 tackles — eight solos and six assists — to go along with one tackle for loss. Zach Collett had nine tackles — four solos and five assists — and also returned a block punt for a touchdown.
Six games into the season, Jackson already has 93 tackles, Burton has 80 and Shoop has 68. All three are on pace to finish the season with more than 100 tackles.
As if opposing defenses didn’t already have enough to worry about when it came to the Troy offense.
The Trojans unveiled a new wrinkle in their offense last Friday as quarterback Brayden Siler carried the ball nine times for 80 yards — both season highs — against the Red Devils, with all of those yards coming on designed runs.
In the five games prior to Friday’s contest against Tippecanoe, Siler had a combined 28 carries for 53 yards.
Siler’s ability to throw the ball already is documented — the Greater Western Ohio Conference website has him throwing for 1,062 yards this season, although the passing numbers attributed to him against Stebbins don’t appear to be accurate — and should have no trouble officially throwing for more than 1,000 yards this season.
The fact he also has now proven he can also make plays with his feet should give defenses yet one more thing to prepare for this season.
After carrying the ball 19 times for 262 yards against Tippecanoe, senior running back Jaydon Culp-Bishop would now appear to be a lock to rush for 1,000 yards this season if he can stay healthy.
According to the stats on the GWOC website, Culp-Bishop now has 118 carries for 974 yards — an average of 8.3 yards per carry — and 16 touchdowns.
Should he rush for 26 yards in Troy’s final four games, he’ll become the first Troy running back to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since Ryan Brewer did it three times in a row from 1996-98. Last season Culp-Bishp finished with more than 1,500 rushing yards.
Only eight running backs in school history have ever rushed for more than 1,000 yards in multiple seasons: Brewer (1996, 1997 and 1998), Bob Ferguson (1955, 1956 and 1957), Matt Dallman (1995, 1996 and 1997), Tom Vaughn (1959 and 1960), Gordon Bell (1970 and 1971), Larry Giangulio (1985 and 1986), Deon Metz (1990 and 1991) and Brad Clay (1992 and 1993).
From QB to DB
Trojan senior Jacob Adams began his football career as a quarterback. He was the starter on the Troy freshman team, then served as the back-up to record-setting Trojan quarterback Hayden Kotwica his sophomore season.
He appeared ready to compete for the starting quarterback job going into his junior year, but suffered a serious arm injury playing baseball the summer before last season, forcing him to miss all of last football season.
His injury and subsequent arm surgery may have taken him out of the quarterback race as a senior, but he has made the most of his transition to safety this season. Since taking over the starting role early in the season, he has recorded 21 tackles, including seven solo stops and 14 assists.
Int he win against Tippecanoe, he got in and blocked the punt that Collett returned for a touchdown.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong