Troy football to return home to ‘Defend the Vet’ in home opener against Alabama State

Scott Watkins

Staff Writer

Following a tough road loss at Boise State, the Troy football team is gearing up for its home opener on Saturday against the Alabama State Hornets.

The Trojans have put the week one loss behind them and are looking to win their third consecutive home opening game and fourth in five years against an in-state foe.

Troy is 13-2 all-time against the Hornets and 6-0 at home in a series that became a rivalry in the 1990s. The Trojans hold a 10-game win streak in the series and have won those 10 games by an average of 24.4 points.

Alabama State is coming off a 14-6 loss to long-time rival and Division II opponent Tuskegee. The Hornets committed a total of 17 penalties resulting in 156 penalty yards.

Troy enters the week two contest with plenty of tune-up work to do with the offense. Senior quarterback Brandon Silvers had a tough time finding any rhythm against Boise State with the offense going three-and-out eight times in 13 drives against Boise State.

“I’m upset; I’m highly upset with how we played on special teams and on offense on Saturday,” said Head Coach Neal Brown at Monday’s weekly press conference. “I’m not over it, and I probably won’t be over it on Saturday.

“Some coaches get up here and say, ‘We’re going to turn the page,’ but I’m not going to turn the page. We’re going to be upset, but we’re going to get ready for Alabama State and prepare with an edge and a hunger to not repeat that performance.”

The Trojan offense was inefficient on first and second downs, resulting in an average third down distance of 8.4 yards.

Troy was among the nation’s worst in third down conversions in 2016 and was successful on only a quarter of the attempts against the Broncos.

Senior running back Jordan Chunn found little room to run, gaining 41 yards on 11 carries. Sophomore running back Jamarius Henderson, however, made the most of his four carries with 37 rushing yards. Expect both to see an increase in carries this week as Brown looks to establish the run game.

The Alabama State defense, however, led by safety Treyon Garnett, allowed just 53 rushing yards on 27 attempts against the Tigers last week. The Hornets also played well against the pass game, allowing only seven completed passes and registering two sacks.

The Trojans will look to be more explosive with their passing attack this week after Silvers averaged just 4.2 yards per attempt last week.

Defensively, the Troy front seven played well against Boise State and particularly well on fourth down. The Broncos went for it on fourth down four times, but were unsuccessful each time.

The Trojan secondary maintained their propensity for containing top quarterbacks by holding Bret Rypien to a career-low total quarterback rating of 18.9 last Saturday.

Sophomore Melvin Tyus stepped up as starting safety for an injured Kris Weatherspoon and led the team with seven tackles against Boise State.

Tyus, along with the rest of the defensive unit, will face an Alabama State offense that features a well-balanced attack. Sophomore quarterback Kobie Jones tallied 219 yards of offense last week, while running backs Darrel King and Alex Anderson combined for 141 rushing yards against Tuskegee.

Troy hosts Alabama State this Saturday in Veterans Memorial Stadium at 5 p.m. The game will be aired on ESPN3.

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