Bye weeks are typically meant for rest, recovery and preparation for the next opponent.
In theory, teams should be more physically and mentally prepared after having a week off. So why has Troy struggled in the two games following its first bye week?
The Trojans were forced to overcome second-half deficits in both games since their first of two bye weeks. They pulled out wins, but failed to cover the spread, something they had not done yet this season.
As they say in Vegas, “Good teams win; great teams cover.”
Troy stumbled out of its bye week in its homecoming game against Georgia State, scoring just six points in the first half after averaging 23 first-half points through the previous five games. The defense then faltered, giving up 118 passing yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter.
The Trojans recaptured the momentum by scoring a flurry of points later in the game, but not before a worrisome wave swept through the homecoming crowd.
Troy’s struggles in that game can be easily chalked up to complacency after starting 4-1 and quickly finding a spot atop the Sun Belt rankings going into the bye week.
Georgia State was an inferior opponent to Troy, and it is very possible that Troy went into the game with a little too much confidence. However, the Trojans were 0-2 coming off bye weeks last season in Head Coach Neal Brown’s first year.
Another possible factor could be that the team was simply looking ahead. After the Georgia State game was the Battle for the Belt against South Alabama.
Knowing that there was going to be a short week of practice ahead of the South game, Coach Brown may have worked in some game preparation for South Alabama during the Georgia State practice week.
The way Troy played against South Alabama is in no way related to the previous bye week. After resting Sunday and traveling Wednesday, having only two days to prepare for one of the conference’s best receiving corps can be a tall order for any secondary.
However, Troy’s defensive back group is not just any secondary. Troy allowed just 195 passing yards and held all-conference tight end Gerald Everett to only three catches.
The Trojans’ problem against the Jaguars came on offense.
The offense did a good job moving the ball down the field, but it could not finish in the end zone. At one point in the third quarter, Troy had 390 total yards of offense, while South had just 233.
Despite this, Troy was down 21-13 and miscues plagued the offense. Troy fumbled five times, losing two.
On one particular possession in the third quarter, Troy went on an 18-play drive that chewed up 8:15. That drive ended in a missed field goal.
It is possible that Troy used the limited practice time to focus more on the game plan and less on execution. If that is the case, the focal point in practice may need to change before another Thursday game against Arkansas State on Nov. 17.
The Trojans will have their final bye week this week before facing the most important stretch of their schedule, which begins with non-conference foe Massachusetts.
Despite having a 1-7 record, it is imperative that Troy does not overlook the Minutemen, even toward the next week’s game against Appalachian State.