/Battle for the Belt: take two

Battle for the Belt: take two

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Scott Watkins

Staff Writer

Ladd-Peebles Stadium is the venue for the second edition of the Battle for the Belt rivalry between the Troy and South Alabama.

Each team will be looking for the edge in the overall series, which is currently tied at two games apiece.

Troy is coming in after a 31-21 homecoming victory over the Georgia State Panthers that saw the Trojans score 18 points in 3:38 to capture a late lead.

South Alabama is returning home after a tough road loss at the hands of the Arkansas State Red Wolves, 17-7.

South Alabama has experienced the highs and the lows of a full college football season after just seven weeks. The inconsistent play can be attributed to an offense that has yet to put together a string of well-played ball games.

The Jaguars have a strong group of pass catchers that is led by first team all-conference tight end Gerald Everett. Everett has caught 31 passes for 518 yards and three touchdowns, leading all Sun Belt tight ends in each category.

“[Everett] is awfully talented. He’s probably one of the most talented players, not only in our conference but in the country, at his position,” said Troy defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. “He’s going to make a lot of money playing this game at the next level.”

Quarterback play has been inconsistent and we can expect to see two different quarterbacks take the field for the Jaguars. Sophomore Dallas Davis started the first game of the year and led the Jaguars to a victory over Mississippi State.

With Davis injured, sophomore Cole Garvin was masterful against San Diego State, throwing for 242 yards and completing 76 percent of his throws.

No matter which quarterback is on the field, he will have to face a ball-hunting secondary that has picked off a nation-leading 14 passes this year.

South Alabama has not relied on its run game this season, averaging just 100 yards rushing per game on three yards per carry. This has hurt the Jaguars in the red zone, as they have converted just 58 percent of red zone trips into touchdowns.

Troy senior defensive lineman Rashad Dillard anchors a vaunted front seven that has recorded 31.5 tackles for loss. Dillard himself has made every third stop a tackle in the backfield this year.

On offense, the Trojans continue to roll. Averaging 39 points per game, Troy leads the conference by a full nine points. Junior quarterback Brandon Silvers and junior running back Jordan Chunn lead the way on offense, but the unsung heroes have been the offensive lineman.

The offensive line has given up only one sack this year, which is best in the country.

The line will be tested this week by senior defensive end Randy Allen. Last week, Allen had a school record 4.5 tackles for loss and is currently second in the country in sacks with 7.5.

“They’ve got a kid named Allen who is a pass rusher at defensive end,” said Troy Head Coach Neal Brown at Monday’s press conference. “He’s gotten pressure on everybody they have played against.”

South Alabama’s secondary has been lights out this year, allowing only 142 passing yards a game.

If the Jaguars defense wishes to be successful, it will be up to whether or not it can slow down the Sun Belt’s leading rusher, Jordan Chunn.