Troy football returns to the comforts of home, kicking off Sun Belt Conference play this Saturday against the New Mexico State Aggies.
The Aggies (1-2, 0-0 Sun Belt) hung around in the first half against SEC foe Kentucky but ultimately fell 62-42 last week. On a rainy evening, the Trojans (2-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) squeezed by a strong Southern Mississippi squad on the road and will carry that momentum into this Sun Belt tilt.
Junior quarterback Brandon Silvers needs to have a short memory after his performance against the Golden Eagles. Silvers completed a career-low 37 percent of his passes as the wet football proved to be a major hindrance to Silvers’ consistently accurate arm.
Troy will also lean this week heavily on junior running back Jordan Chunn, who is second in the conference in rushing yards with 382. This game plan bodes well for Troy, as the Aggies run defense is ranked 127th in the country, having already given up 891 yards on the ground in just three games.
Senior middle linebacker Rodney Butler, who is currently leading the country in combined tackles with 51, leads the Aggie defense. Butler will need more help from a defensive line that has only registered 2.5 tackles for loss the season.
Troy will need to finish its drives with touchdowns in order to put this team away.
“Their defense is much improved, they are attacking more,” Troy Head Coach Neal Brown said Monday in his weekly press conference. “They’ve given up some yards but not very many points. Last week is a little bit deceiving, special teams and turnovers gave them some short fields.”
New Mexico State’s offense was a tale of two halves against Kentucky. In the first half, the Aggies racked up 345 yards and 35 points, but were snuffed in the second, tallying just 155 yards and seven points.
Dual-threat senior quarterback Tyler Rogers leads a balanced offense that features a two-back system. Senior running back Xavier Hall has gotten the majority of the teams carries, running for 163 yards and a score so far this season.
That may change on Saturday though, as last year’s leading rusher Larry Rose III will make his return this week. The running back had surgery last month.
Right now, Rogers is the focal point of the offense, leading the team with seven touchdowns he is responsible for, three of those being on the ground.
When the Aggie offense is on the field, third downs will be the biggest plays of the day. The Aggies are second in the Sun Belt in conversions, while Troy is second in defending them.
New Mexico State’s ability to extend drives will be crucial in whether it can keep up with Troy’s offense.
Penalties continue to be the thorn in the Trojans’ side. After 10 penalties last week, Troy has more penalties than any other team in the country, and continuing this trend could spell disaster for the team.
Troy will look to take its momentum so far this season into Saturday’s matchup, which kicks off at 6 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Stadium. ESPN3 and Troy Sports Radio Network will provide coverage.