Trojans look to establish the run against stingy Bobcats

Published 3:00 am Friday, December 23, 2016

At long last, game day is finally here and the Troy Trojans hope to come out on top when they take on Ohio in the 2016 Dollar General Bowl.

The Trojans were last in a bowl game in 2010 when they took on the same Bobcat team in the R&L Carriers New Orleans bowl. After a six-year hiatus, the Trojans are excited to be playing in December.

The Trojans finished the regular season with a 9-3 record and had one of its best seasons since making the transition to the Division-I level in 2001. They have a chance to make it the best with a win this evening, giving them win number 10.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

To do that they will have to get past a Bobcat team that finished the season 8-5 which includes a 29-23 loss to Western Michigan in the MAC Championship game.

All season long, the Trojans have used the running game led by Jordan Chunn to help set up the offense. Tonight the Trojans will be going up against a defense that is sixth in the country in stopping the run.

“I think they are sixth in the nation in rushing defense,” Troy head coach Neal Brown said. “They have 43 sacks on the year, and their linebacker play and defensive line across the bard, outside of Clemson, will be the better than anyone we have played this year.”

Chunn, who finished the regular season with 1,232 yards, believes it will be a battle of two strengths.

They’re pretty good up front,” Chunn said. “I watched film, they all fly to the ball and they all play hard, it’s going to be a good matchup with our running game against them.”

Throughout the season’s final four weeks Chunn has been battling an injury and although coach Brown expects him to play, he may not be 100 percent.

“We’ll see,” Brown said. “I don’t think he will be at full strength, but he is going to play in the game.”

Even with the combination of a top 10 rush defense and a less then 100 percent Chunn, the Trojans will still look to run the football to set up the passing game down the field.

“We have won all year establishing the run and stopping the run defensively,” Brown said. “Silvers will need to play good for us without a doubt, but we need to be able to establish the run early in the game.”

Senior receiver Emmanuel Sanders believes Ohio’s run defense will open holes for the receivers and big plays down the field will help open up the run game.

“If you’re going to try and take away our running game we can also pass the ball, so it shouldn’t be a factor,” Sanders said. “If we can hit a few plays down the field or even take shots down the field it will make them feel more threatened and they will unload the box.”

The Trojans defense enters the game allowing 22 points per game on 364.3 yards per game in 2016. The Bobcats, who will feature two quarterbacks in Greg Windham and Quinton Maxwell, average 26 points per game and 392 yards of offense.

They don’t change what they (quarterbacks) do. One is a senior and one is a redshirt freshman. They have had success and it seems to me they go for the hot hand. They play both of them. There are a couple of things that each of them do differently or a little better than the other, so we will prepare for that, but as far as overall game plan, it won’t change much regardless of who is in at quarterback.”

Kickoff between the Bobcats and the Trojans is scheduled for 7 p.m.