Don't drop the ball, don't drop the ball.
Those were the words receiver Israel Troupe kept telling himself as he looked back and saw the pass from quarterback Joe Cox headed his way.
He didn't. Troupe's 50-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter of Saturday's 31-24 win over Auburn was not only the first of his Bulldog career, but also the first catch of the season for the seldom-used receiver.
"I was just telling myself not to drop the ball. When I saw it, I was like 'Wow, he's actually throwing it to me,'" Troupe said. "I felt good about it, I made the catch and fortunately I scored on that one too."
Last month, Troupe admitted to UGASports that he was actually thinking about forgoing his football career.
That's no longer the case.
"It's been a great day. I was down at the beginning of the season but as the season went on, I got my spirits up," he said. "A.J. (Green) and I talked about it and tonight I got my chance and I made it. I just want to thank the coaches for giving me the opportunity."
More chances should be coming his way.
With Green out indefinitely with an AC sprain in his left shoulder, Troupe is all but assured of more playing time, along with freshmen Rantavious Wooten and Marlon Brown who will see added reps behind starters Mike Moore and Tavarres King.
"It (Troupe's play) just lets you know that we do have playmakers in the receiving corps, we really do," King said. "It lets you know we're deep at receiver and to not count anybody out."
Based on the play, head coach Mark Richt isn't going to let Green's absence dictate the Bulldogs' offensive style, either.
Even with Green out Cox still looked to launch the ball deep, as he did to Troupe and later to King, whose' 47-yard catch to the Auburn 11 set up Caleb King's touchdown run on the very next play.
"The first one to Troupe it was one of those plays where you show them something you've done all year, which is basically just our fullback out in the flat and our tight end on a little flag route. The ball is always going fullback to tight end, fullback to tight end," Richt said. "We felt like if we would just pump it to the fullback in the flat, it would freeze that corner just a little bit and that's exactly what happened. He kind of froze reading the pattern, Troupe got by him and Joe laid it out there beautifully. Caleb King made a great block on that play to give Joe the time along with the rest of the line."
Richt said after the game that he felt the Tigers might be susceptible to the deep pass.
It turned out they were.
"We wanted to take some shots downfield. We wanted to watch closely to see how they played A.J. and if we thought they were going to play any type of single coverage, whether it was Cover 3, or just pure man coverage or quarter coverage, we were going to launch a couple to him, but even after he went out we still stayed with that philosophy to throw deep. Luckily, we hit a couple of big ones."
Troupe had another 12-yard catch in the third quarter to equal his career high with two receptions in a game. In 2008, Troupe had four catches for 39 yards.
Troupe credits Green with helping him stay focused throughout his recent ordeal.
"I keep A.J. straight and he keeps me straight," Troupe said. "We look out for each other and he's always telling me to keep my head up."
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