Troy enters conference play with confidence
Published 3:00 am Friday, September 23, 2016
The Trojans begin conference play this Saturday when they host New Mexico State at 6 p.m.
“We are excited to start this conference season at home,” said Trojans head coach Neal Brown. “We talked about three preseason games, and we are sitting here at 2-1. It’s time to play the games that are going to count.”
The Aggies (1-2) fell to Kentucky last week 62-42. Their lone win of the year came in week two over New Mexico.
“New Mexico State is playing really well right now,” Brown said. “They were able to beat a rival in New Mexico, and I think New Mexico is one of the best rushing teams in the country. They played really well in Kentucky and had a chance to win that game into the second half.”
The Trojans will face an Aggie defense that has averaged 32 points per game. The Aggies are led at quarterback by senior Tyler Rodgers who has completed 50 percent of his passes for 657 yards and two touchdowns.
“Their quarterback is phenomenal,” said Troy defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. “I couldn’t be more impressed with them. This is three weeks in a row that we get a quarterback who is throwing the ball all over the place. Come on. We have tremendous respect for their head coach and the schemes they run.”
The Trojan defense has been able to keep the opposing quarterbacks’ completion percentage down over the first three weeks. In week two, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 50 percent of his passes while Southern Mississippi quarterback Nick Mullins completed 46 percent.
The Trojans may have to contend with rusher Larry Rose, who has sat out the first three games due to an injury. Last year Rose rushed for 1,651 yards and 14 touchdowns good enough to earn him the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Student-Athlete of the year award.
“I am expecting him to play until I hear something different,” Brown said. “One of the best guys in the league when it comes to people. I like watching him play he was the offensive player of the year last year in our conference.”
The Trojans offense heads into Sun Belt play with the highest scoring offense in the conference at 39.3 and going up against a defense that has allowed 43.7 points, good enough for ninth in the conference.
“I think we have to establish the run game,” Troy offensive Coordinator Kenny Edenfield said. “We’ve been saying that since we got here. It really helps everything when you get that going. It opens up everything. We have to find a way to do that.”
“They are a much improved unit,” Brown said. “They are attacking more and they are going to have some confidence.”
Saturday’s meeting is going to be the fourth time the two teams have met with Troy holding a 2-1 advantage. Last year the Trojans defeated the Aggies in Las Cruces 52-7.
“It’s going to be a tremendous game,” Brown said. “Two opponents that are looking for conference success this season.”
Kick off is 6 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy.