HOMECOMING: Trojans get back into Sun Belt Conference play against the Idaho Vandals for homecoming
Published 3:30 am Friday, October 16, 2015
The Troy Trojans hope to get into the win column in Sun Belt conference play this Saturday when they welcome the Idaho Vandals to Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Trojans have spent four of their five games out of conference.
“We are excited about ending our non-conference schedule, to say the least,” said Trojan head coach Neal Brown. “I’m looking forward to conference play. We have homecoming this week and our guys are excited about getting back in front of our home crowd.”
The Trojans (0-1, 1-4) struggled in their lone Sun Belt conference game this year, losing to in-state rival South Alabama two weeks ago.
The Vandals (0-2, 1-4) come into Saturday’s game struggling, losing their only two conference games to Georgia Southern and Arkansas State.
After finishing with only one win a year ago, the Vandals look to improve this year and they have the offensive weapons to make that happen.
“I think they are the most improved team this year from last year to this year. They deserve a lot of credit; they’ve done a great job recruiting. If you look at Coach Petrino, he has always done a good job offensively; it goes back to his brother as well, one of the best play-callers in the country,” Brown said.
In their first four games the Vandals have averaged 26.6 points per game. The receivers have helped the Vandals put up 264 passing yards a game so far this season add that to a competent running game and the Vandals have a balanced attack.
“They are balanced,” Brown said. “I think their running back Elijhaa Penny is a big physical kid that is difficult to tackle. He will present a challenge for us. Obviously, (Dezmon) Epps is one of the top-ranked receivers in the country. I remember watching him as a junior college kid coming out. He is a guy that had potential to big-time player then, and he has proved that there.”
The Trojans offense took a major hit a week ago when starting quarterback Brandon Silvers left the game with an apparent head injury. Silvers is listed as a game time decision which could leave the responsibility to back-up quarterback Dontreal Pruitt.
Pruitt more than held his own last weekend against Mississippi State. The senior quarterback connected on 12 of his 17 passes for 90 yards and rushed for 86 yards and one touchdown.
“I was pleased with how he came in and performed in a tough situation because our backup quarterbacks don’t get a ton of reps in practice, limited reps in the game plan,” Brown said. “We adjusted some things at halftime to give him a better opportunity, so I was pleased with that.”
With Silvers in the lineup or not Pruitt is sure to get his opportunities this Saturday against the Vandals.
“I think he gives us an option to make plays,” Brown said. “Coming out of the spring our plan was to play him and have packages for him and he struggled in fall camp a little bit. We got away from it and Brandon (Silvers) played at a high level. So what his performance in the second half did is earn him and opportunity to play. Even when Brandon’s healthy, we will figure out ways to get (Pruitt) the ball.”
The Trojan offense has been sputtering the last few weeks, especially when it comes to connecting on big plays. In the first half a week ago the Trojans only put up 31 total yards on 37 plays.
The Trojans may have their opportunities. The Vandals come in allowing 47 points per game this season to their opponents and they have also let up a whopping 542 yards per game.
“Defensively they have a new coordinator, a guy that has had a lot of success, won some national championships while at Montana in FCS,” Brown said. “Their down linemen are potential issues.”
The Trojans will be getting a rested Vandals team coming off a bye week.
“They are coming in here off a bye week, which is important,” Brown said. “We need to do a good job of getting our guys back. We talked about our non-conference it has been tough. Our guys are a little beat up. We need to get fresh and be ready to go on Saturday afternoon.
Kick off between the Vandals and the Trojans is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.