With the Vikings' 35-19 loss last week at ninth-ranked Benedictine, self-determinism -- at least as far as the Heart of America Conference championship is concerned -- belongs to the undefeated Ravens.
"We just didn't play as well as we were capable, and that's disappointing," Troth admitted. "We came out a little flat, and that's on me. It's my job to have our guys ready to play."
The loss wasn't devastating, since Valley -- which fell from fourth to tied for ninth in the NAIA poll -- still has a potential playoff spot in its hands. The Vikings' early-season 26-21 victory over MidAmerica Nazarene, which hosts Benedictine this week, may provide them a little breathing room -- if they take care of business the rest of the way.
"We're not approaching things differently," Troth said. "The only thing we can do is be 1-0 this week and win one game at a time."
The stretch run begins Saturday with a Homecoming game against Graceland, which MVC beat for the third straight time last year, 33-12. The young Yellowjackets (1-5, 1-4 HAAC) were whipped soundly in the first three games of the season, but after beating Peru State, 45-13, have been more competitive in their last two outings.
"They're playing a lot better now than they were earlier in the year," Troth noted. "They've got some really good athletes, they have some speed and they have some size."
Graceland is at the bottom of the league in rushing offense (57.2 yards per game), but more respectable through the air. After scoring only 26 points in their first three games, the 'Jackets have tallied 93 points in three contests since.
Call it growing pains for an inexperienced offensive line and freshman quarterback Andrew Cameron, who has completed 54 of 127 passes for 798 yards and six touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.
"That may have contributed to some inconsistency," Troth explained. "We can't let them figure things out this week."
The Vikings (5-1, 4-1) are also young under center, true freshman Bruce Reyes stumbling for the first time with four interceptions a week ago. Graceland offers a unique defensive look, with an emphasis on man-to-man coverage, to which Reyes will have to adjust.
"They're a little bit non-traditional, and that makes them tough," Troth said. "Not many teams have been able to move the ball consistently against them. That's going to be our challenge."
Equally demanding is going to be the test of Valley's fortitude, how it responds to adversity.
"That's what we're going to find out," Troth said. "We have enough veterans, they know what needs to be done.
"They just have to go out and do it."