Ground game a key for Troup
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Troup Tigers are well known for their ability to wear opposing defenses out with their high-flying aerial attack.
A year ago, Montez Crowe set numerous school passing records, and he was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the state, matching numbers with Cartersville’s Trevor Lawrence.
Kobe Hudson has kept it going this season, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns, and Troup once again has one of the elite passing offenses in Georgia.
The Tigers aren’t a one-trick pony, though.
While the passing game is a critical part of Troup’s offensive arsenal, the team also has the ability to bludgeon teams with a potent running game.
That ground attack was on full display in last week’s 42-28 victory over Oconee County in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
With three different players running for at least 100 yards, the Tigers finished with 341 yards, and they had three rushing touchdowns.
Leading the way was senior Tyree Carlisle, who had 20 carries for 133 yards and three touchdowns.
Junior running back Trey Williams had 23 carries for 100 yards with one touchdown, and Hudson had 108 yards on 19 attempts.
Head coach Tanner Glisson said how heavily the Tigers will lean on the running game is determined by what look an opposing defense offers.
“We don’t know what people are going to do to us,” Glisson said. “It seems like every week, somebody has a different plan for Kobe and the offense. So they’re trying to make decisions to they keep everything in front of them, do they take risks. So the game plan going in is to be able to make adjustments. You have to have a plan B. It very quickly turned into Plan B.”
Carlise proved to be a load for Oconee County’s defense to handle, and the senior had two 4-yard scoring runs and an 18-yard touchdown run.
Carlisle seems to also gain positive yardage, and it usually takes more than one would-be tackler to bring him down.
“Tyree’s biggest thing is, he’s physical,” Glisson said. “He’s a lot bigger than people realize. He’s 200 pounds. You saw him dragging people the other night. He’s strong. He’s got that toughness about him.”
While Williams also has the ability to get the tough yards, Glisson said he is a different kind of back.
“Trey has really good vision,” Glisson said. “He’s more of a zone-type back, whereas Tyree is more of a gap-scheme type guy.”
Glisson added that “both of them can really catch the ball out of the backfield, so that really scares you as a defensive guy.”
Hudson isn’t a running back, but he has the characteristics of one.
Whereas some quarterbacks look to avoid contact, Hudson takes it on and is usually the one dishing out the punishment instead of taking it.
“He weighs 200 pounds and he power cleans 330,” Glisson said. “He’s like a tailback.”
Carlisle, Hudson and Williams have combined for 2,155 yards and 27 touchdowns in 12 games.
Hudson leads the team with 924 rushing yards, and he has 12 touchdowns. Williams has 716 yards on 149 carries with five touchdowns, and Carlisle has 515 yards on 81 attempts with 10 touchdowns.
“Trey and Tyree, they’re a dual threat,” Troup senior wide receiver Joko Willis said. “You can’t stop them, and then Kobe runs the ball, too.”
While the Tigers were run heavy last week, they didn’t abandon the passing game.
Hudson completed 10-of-18 passes for 225 yards with one touchdown, and four different players had receptions.
Hudson has now thrown for 2,806 yards with 26 touchdowns in 12 games.
Hudson’s favorite target this season has been Willis, who had a huge night against Oconee County with three catches for 129 yards with a 60-yard touchdown.
Willis, an all-state linebacker last year, has been a marvel at receiver this year.
Willis leads the team with 32 catches for 692 yards, and he has seven touchdowns.
“He’s so big and physical,” Glisson said. “He’s a matchup problem for a lot of people.”
Ja’Rell Smith had three catches for 49 yards last week, Jamari Thrash added two receptions for 26 yards, and Mark-Anthony Dixon had one catch for 10 yards.
Troup amassed 566 yards last week in part because of an offensive line that continues to shine.
The offensive line excelled despite the absence of junior standout Michael Irvin, who suffered a broken foot in the regular-season finale against Cartersville.
Sophomore Tyler Kitchens stepped in and played the whole game and helped solidify the line in Irvin’s absence.
OF NOTE: For a look at Troup’s defensive performance against Oconee County, see Thursday’s sports section