CONTAINMENT: Trojans hope to keep Dak Prescott in check when they travel to play Mississippi State
Published 3:30 am Friday, October 9, 2015
The Trojans close out their non-conference schedule Saturday when they travel to Starkville to play Dak Prescott and the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
After a lackluster performance a week ago against in-state rival South Alabama, Troy (1-3, 0-1) was forced to turn the page quickly and get ready for their Southeastern Conference opponent.
“Like it or not, we are going to move on and play a really good opponent this weekend in Mississippi State,” said Trojans head coach Neal Brown. “Obviously, when you turn on the video they are what you expect when you talk about an upper echelon team out of the Southeastern Conference, a team that was ranked No. 1 in the country.”
The Bulldogs (3-2, 1-2) success begins and ends with their starting quarterback Prescott. The senior quarterback is the leading rusher on the Bulldogs offense and even though the Bulldogs have gotten off to a slow start this season, the offense will be a challenge.
“Offensively it starts with their quarterback, Dak Prescott. He is a guy who I have watched mature over the last three years,” Brown said. “He is a big, physical guy who is a really good runner. His accuracy has improved tremendously over his tenure as the starting quarterback.”
The Trojans will have to attack Prescott both as a quarterback and as a runner.
“He is a match up problem and that is why he was a Heisman contender last year,” Brown said. “They do a good job of using formations – any time you run the quarterback, you have a chance to outnumber people and they do a good job of mixing up their formations and doing that.”
The Bulldogs head into the game averaging nearly 30 points per game while tallying an average of 440 yards per game compared to 300 by Troy.
The Bulldogs have averaged nearly 300 yards passing per game.
“He (Prescott) has two really big guys to throw to on the outside, (De’Runnya) Wilson will be a tough match up for us,” Brown said. “Their leading receiver right now is Fred Ross. He is from Tyler, Texas, and is a guy we really recruited hard at Texas Tech – good route runner, is physical and does a good job in the punt return game.”
Troy’s offense, which struggled to get anything going against South Alabama, will face a defense that has let up 18 points per game so far this season.
“They are really long and talented up front. If you look at them they are all 6-foot-4 plus across the front. Defensive tackle Chris Jones is as good as any player in the America at that position. They have two defensive ends (Ryan Brown and A.J. Jefferson) that are causing a lot of havoc. Their cornerback (Will) Redmond is playing with a lot of confidence in the back end,” Brown said.
Troy has struggled connecting on big plays so far this season. Hitting big plays downfield may be a challenge once again when go up against a talented Bulldog secondary.
“They are going to make it tough,” Brown said. “Against Mississippi State or whoever, I’m not necessarily concerned who we’re playing, I’m concerned with us playing offense the way it should be played.”
Of course, playing at Starkville poses its own challenge, thanks to the cowbells associated with Mississippi State fans.
“We’ll do some things through our system to emulate the cowbells. It’s a loud environment; the crowd is right on top of you. They have done a good job of enclosing the stadium where the noise stays in there,” Brown said. “They were gone last week, so they’ll have big crowd that will be into the game.”
Kick off is scheduled for 3 p.m.