Troy defense looking to control UNT run game

Published 10:03 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Troy is expecting North Texas to try and control the football in this Saturday’s Sun Belt Conference matchup in Denton, Tex. The Trojans (1-2, 0-1 Sun Belt) defense is looking to get off the field and let the offense do the talking.

“They got into a rhythm last year and had a good run at the end of the game,” defensive end Tony Davis said. “We’ve got to do a better job on third downs and getting off the field.”

North Texas (1-2) held the ball for 36:30 in last season’s contest compared to Troy’s 23:30 time of possession. The Mean Green ran off the 7:28 seconds at the end of the final quarter, giving Troy just 15 seconds left to score in the 38-33 UNT victory.

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Quarterback Derek Thompson had a career game completing 31 of 38 passes for 331 yards and pair of touchdowns.

“It’s a pass-happy league, so we definitely have to get pressure on the quarterback,” Davis said. “Anytime you can get pressure on (Thompson) it’s an added bonus.”

Troy defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell is ready for the ball-control style that North Texas brings.

“They do a really job of running the ball,” Rowell said. “They are definitely not the team they were a few years ago throwing the ball all over.”

In North Texas’ 35-21 loss to No. 15 Kansas State last week, the Wildcats ran just 48 offense plays and Thompson played in a large role in that with short, safe pass attempts. He finished the game 25-for-28.

“It’s based on their routes, they’re throwing high-percentage passes,” Rowell said. “They’ll take some shots when they can. (Thompson) does a good job of controlling the game and if it’s not there, checking it down to where he needs to.”

Troy has had no problems moving the football this season. The Trojans are averaging 537 yards of total offense per game, 356 through the air which is good enough to rank them eighth in the county.

The Trojan offense has caught the attention of North Texas head coach Dan McCarney.

“They are just dominating people with their offense,” said McCarney. “When you can put up 572 yards against an SEC defense you have talent, you have a good system and you’re executing.”

McCarney went on to say that Troy’s offense is different than most spread offenses found in college football these days.

“They get yards not only passing, but also have the conference’s leading rusher,” said McCarney. “It (the offense) is hard, it’s tough, its’ balanced, it’s coming at you. They play at a fast tempo, like nothing we can prepare for in practice.”

McCarney also said that the Mean Green defensive line must get pressure on Corey Robinson in order to slow down the Troy offense.

“If we don’t get pressure on this quarterback, after they just put 572 yards on Mississippi State, then it will be a long night for the Mean Green.”

This will be the Sun Belt Conference opener for North Texas. It will also mark Troy’s first appearance in the new Apogee Stadium and the last for the foreseeable future as North Texas makes the move to Conference USA next season.

Troy went winless on the road in 2011 but captured a season opening road win over UAB earlier this season.

Game time is set for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN 3.