BADGER WEEK: Trojans look for second win as they head north to battle the 24th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers
Published 3:30 am Friday, September 18, 2015
The Troy Trojans look to upset one of the premier programs in the country this Saturday when they travel to Madison, Wisconsin, to take on the No. 24 Badgers.
Head coach Neal Brown picked up his first career win last Saturday when the Trojans defeated Charleston Southern 44-16. In search of win number two, the Trojans will have a tougher task this week when they visit one of the predominant programs in the Big Ten Conference.
Like the Trojans, the Badgers enter week three with a 1-1 record. Wisconsin beat Miami of Ohio 58-0 a week ago, following a 35-17 loss the week prior to Alabama.
Along with Ohio State, Wisconsin has traditionally been on top of the Big Ten Conference and this season should be no different. With a powerful running game and physical defense, Troy will have their hands full.
“Wisconsin is about what you expect. They’re really well coached and they are big and physical. They’ve won a lot of football games; they’re a top 25 team,” Brown said. “I think they would probably be higher ranked, but they played Alabama, which may be the best team in the country, certainly up for debate.”
Saturday’s match up with the Badgers will be the second time in the first three weeks of the season the Trojans will match up with a team from a power five conference. The Trojans lost to North Carolina State in week one 49-21.
The Trojans will be face an offense that traditionally features a heavy run game. With former running back Melvin Gordon in the NFL the Badgers have had to reload offensively. With quarterback Joel Stave and big offensive line the Badgers had no problem dispensing Miami a week ago.
“Offensively they are balanced. They throw the ball a lot better than people give them credit for. They’ve got a quarterback in Joel Stave who’s close to a lot of the Wisconsin records,” Brown said. “They use a lot of different shift and motions. Their big bodies are a concern for us. They’re really big up front with their offensive line, they’ve got tight ends and fullbacks and it’s going to be a difficult matchup for us.”
Last week the Trojans were able to hit several big plays to pull away from the Buccaneers. At times however, they struggled to maintain drives and get first downs.
This week they match up with a team that finished in the top five a year ago in total defense.
Time of possession has been hit or miss so far this season for the Trojans. Although they have been able to make a few big plays against both the Wolfpack and Buccaneers, for the most part the Trojans offense have had trouble sustaining drives.
The Trojans lost the time of possession battle to both the Wolfpack and Buccaneers 41:34-18:26 and 39:58-20:02.
“We’ve got to get better at third downs, that’s something that’s a point of emphasis. We were better in week two, still not good enough, but better,” Brown said. “We can’t ask our defense to go out and play that many snaps against their offense. This will be very similar to North Carolina State, little bit more passing with their quarterback.”
The Trojans will have to continue to rely on Brandon Burks if they want to be able to run on Wisconsin’s tough defense with Jordan Chunn inactive this week after a he landed awkwardly during a run against Charleston Southern.
“Well, I think all our guys want to play the whole time anyway,” said Trojan Offensive Coordinator Kenny Edenfield. “I think if he’s not able to go, I think Burks will be sad for him, but he’ll be happy for himself because that means more plays.”
With Chun on the sideline and Burks getting the majority of the carries, this could open the door for sophomore running back Josh Anderson to get some carries.
“He’s the next guy besides (Andre) Flakes. We’ve had three backs,” Edenfield said. “Anderson’s always gotten a few looks here and there. We haven’t had to use him much because we’ve always had enough backs. If Chunn’s not able to (go), he’ll get a few more reps in practice, which is something we need to do anyway. We’ve done a little bit of that in camp. We think he’s capable and a good back.”
Troy will look to improve their record to 2-1 when they kick off against the Badgers at 2:30 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.