Troy looks to stay hot at Idaho

Scott Watkins

Staff Writer

Coming off its best September in history, the Troy football team will start the new month by paying a visit to the Idaho Vandals on Saturday.

Last week, Troy easily handled New Mexico State in its conference opener at home, 52-6. Conference opponent Idaho is returning home after a 33-30 overtime win on the road against UNLV.

Saturday’s game will feature two programs heading in opposite directions, battling it out in what could be another lopsided affair.

Troy will invade Moscow, Idaho with the Sun Belt’s top offense.

Junior quarterback Brandon Silvers leads a balanced attack that features junior running back Jordan Chunn, who is currently second in the conference in rushing yards. Chunn is the head of a deep group of running backs that collectively lead the conference in yards per carry with 5.5.

Freshman running back Jabir Frye may be the most exciting back in that group. Frye won the Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week award last week after blocking a punt and returning a kickoff for a touchdown.

Together, Chunn and Frye have more all-purpose yards than any other tandem in the conference.

Idaho has a middle-of-the-pack defense that is anchored by sophomore linebacker Tony Lashley. Lashley leads the team in total tackles, 30, and tackles for loss with three.

The key for the Vandal defense will be putting pressure on Silvers and forcing him into making mistakes.

This is easier said than done, though. Troy has allowed just one sack this season, while Idaho’s defense has only registered five.

On offense, Idaho has not been the same team it was a year ago, averaging 101 yards per game fewer than last year. Perhaps the most eye-opening stat is that the offense has only scored seven touchdowns in four games.

Junior running back Aaron Duckworth is the main cog in the offense, and has 271 rushing yards to go along with three scores.

The key for Idaho’s offense will be to finish in the red zone. The Vandals have scored touchdowns on just 46 percent of its trips to the red zone.

Protecting the football will also be of major importance against a ball-hunting Troy defense that ranks third in the nation in takeaways.

There has not been one standout star of the Troy defense, but several playmakers have contributed. Seven players have at least two tackles for loss and seven players have recorded an interception.

“The biggest improvement is we’re making plays defensively on the ball,” Head Coach Neal Brown said in a press conference on Monday. “We spent a lot of time catching balls and doing ball drills in the offseason. This year we’re making plays.”

Troy will look to avenge last year’s homecoming loss in a big way inside the Kibbie Dome on Saturday at 4 p.m. ESPN3 and the Troy Sports Radio Network will provide coverage.

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