GAME TIME: Troy takes on in-state rival South Alabama in ‘Battle for the Belt’

Published 3:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Troy Trojans return to action tonight when they travel to Mobile to take on in-state rival South Alabama in the second annual “Battle for Belt.”

“This is a huge opportunity for us to play on Thursday night in a nationally televised game on ESPNU,” Troy head coach Neal Brown said. “We didn’t have this opportunity a year ago, and it was something we felt slighted about. We have to take advantage of this. It is a rivalry game, and a trophy game.”

The Trojans hope to make a statement in front of a nationally televised audience against a team that has already had two program defining wins against Mississippi State and San Diego State.

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“I think coach (Joey) Jones has done a great job at South building that program,” Brown said. “They have two marquee wins for our conference, the win over Mississippi State on the road and a win over No. 19 in the country San Diego State.”

The major challenge for Brown and the coaching staff this week was trying to prepare for a talented Jaguar team on short rest after Saturday’s homecoming win against Georgia State.

“You plan for it,” Brown said. “The schedule came out in March so we knew we were going to be playing on a short week, so we did a lot of homework and I talked to different coaches that have done this several times. We put together a plan we believe in that is going to allow us to be fresh first and then get enough preparation in.”

The Jaguars (3-3, 0-3) are still searching for their fist conference win of the season after falling to Arkansas State on Saturday 17-7.

The Trojan defense will have to contend with a pair of dual threat quarterbacks in Dallas Garvis and Cole Garvin. Combined they were able to complete 12-27 passes for 194 yards.

“Offensively, they have two dual threat quarterbacks,” Brown said. “We will probably see both of them and both of them have played very well at different times this year. They both have the ability to run and pass. Their running back Xavier Johnson is really good.”

Perhaps the biggest weapon for the Jaguars is tight end Gerald Everett. Everett has a total of 31 catches for 518 yards and three touchdowns.

“The best player, maybe in our conference is Gerald Everett, their tight end,” Brown said. “He is probably the best NFL prospect in our league. He hurt us last year. He has made big plays. He is a big time player and I have a lot of respect for his game. I enjoy watching him play and he is a great football player.”

Orange Beach native and Troy junior starting quarterback Brandon Silvers, returns home to play a team that has given him problems last year with three interceptions.

“I just have to have the ‘next-play’ attitude,” Brown said. “I just have to move on from it. If you throw a touchdown or a pic, you just have to move on from it. I think I have done that pretty well since that game last year. Since then I have been pretty good-next play mentality just incase something goes bad.”

This evening’s matchup will be just the fifth time the two teams have met up with each team winning two games.

Kick off between the Trojans and the Jaguars are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile. The game can be watched on ESPNU.