By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
October 23, 2013
The Troup Tigers will never be confused with one of the pass-happy offenses that is so en vogue these days.
The Troup offensive strategy usually involves running the ball, and then running it some more.
The Tigers aren’t entirely one-dimensional, though.
Junior quarterback Will Smith has proven himself to be a capable passer, and when he goes to the air, one of his favorite targets is senior Quaydo Florence.
The two hooked up for a 51-yard touchdown in the season opener against Redan, and Smith has continued to get the ball to Florence throughout the season.
“They’re not always big gainers, but they’re important,” Troup head coach Lynn Kendall said of Florence’s catches.
Florence knows the team’s bread and butter is the running game.
With a powerful offensive line, and two big-time running backs in Daryl Dunlap and Dre Towns, it makes since that Troup would keep the ball on the ground.
The senior also knows that his time will come during a game.
“We run the ball, pound it, but we get a pass play every now and then,” Florence said. “We mix it up a little bit.”
When the ball does come his way, Florence said his goal is “to catch it first, and then try to make a play.”
Florence has a lot of strengths as a receiver.
He’s fast, has great hands, runs solid routes and is tough.
One thing Florence isn’t is tall.
He stands well below six feet, but he hasn’t let that slow him down.
“It’d be nice (to be tall), but I work hard,” he said. “It’s heart over height.”
Kendall said Florence has done everything he needs to to be successful.
“He works hard in the weight room,” Kendall said. “He had a great offseason. He has all the things you need to have. He’s definitely a big threat for us.”
Florence spent his first two years of high school playing freshman and junior-varsity football, and also serving as a scout player on the varsity team.
He said that experience made him a “tougher” player.
“It really did help me,” he said. “It got me tougher. I got more focused on the ball. It helped my blocking, going against bigger, stronger people. You learn a lot playing scout team.”
Florence said the blocking aspect of being a wide receiver in a run-oriented offense is a key.
Although Florence isn’t big, he’s an effective blocker, and it’s not something he shies away from.
“You have to block,” he said. “We run an option, inside, outside, so you can never be loafing. You have to keep blocking.”
Florence is on the field mainly to make plays in the passing game, though, and he said he and Smith work well together, although he said they’re always striving to improve.
“We have a good connection, but we’re trying to get better,” Florence said. “We’ve got a good thing going on with each other, but we can still get better.”
Florence hopes to get his hands on a few balls when Troup hosts Fayette County Friday in a key Region 5-AAAA game.
If the Tigers win, they’ll move to 3-2 in the region, and they’ll remain in solid shape to earn one of the region’s four playoff spots.
Although Fayette County has just one win, it does have an explosive offense, so Florence figures the Troup offense will need to have a big night.
“We definitely have to go hard, put up some points,” Florence said. “We just have to come out and play hard.”