Mirror image: Troy and Boise State look similar heading into Saturday’s showdown

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Troy Trojans open up their 2017 season on Saturday afternoon on the road against the Boise State Broncos.

The Broncos are looked at as one of the top teams in the Group of Five heading into 2017, averaging 10 wins going back to the 2011 season.

“They’re a tremendous program without a lot of tradition and we could sit here and talk about what they’ve done over the last 15-plus years,” said Troy head coach Neal Brown. “We have a lot of respect not only for their program, but for Bryan Harsin and his staff and what Bryan’s done as the head coach at Arkansas State, offensive coordinator at Texas and now at Boise.”

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The Broncos and the Trojans are two similar programs entering this season. Both offenses enter the season with nearly their entire offensive talent from a season ago returning.

“If you look at both teams, we are similar to what we have returning,” Brown said. “Their top receiver is back and their quarterback is back. Both those are elite players. They return guys that caught passes; maybe not as much receiving production as we do as a whole.”

The Trojans return their thousand-yard rusher in Jordan Chunn. Although the Broncos have a new back carrying the load this season, recent history suggests that Alexander Matttison could be the next Bronco back to reach the 1,000 mark.

“At running back they have just been a turnstile,” Brown said. “Whoever is next gets 1,000 yards, and that is my expectation for them this year.”

The similarity between the two teams doesn’t stop on offense. Defensively, both the Trojans and Broncos return key players, but will also be forced to play new and inexperienced players this season. Each team will be bringing in new specialists on special teams.

“On special teams, the specialists are going to be playing in their first game for them,” Brown said. “I think their snapper has one game of experience just like ours. It’s similar how both of our rosters shake up.”

The Trojans will take on Boise State again next year and when the two-game series comes to an end, the Trojans hope they can follow in the footsteps of the Broncos and be one of the dominant programs within the Group of Five.

“Boise has been at the top of the Group of Five,” Brown said. “I make no bones about it: that’s where we would like to take this program. We are trying to build a program here. We don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. Over an 18-year span, they (Boise State) have averaged 11 wins. When I think of Boise, I think of consistency.

“When we line up three, four, five years down the road to play somebody, I would like the opposing coach to say that Troy consistently wins. You know what you are going to get when you play them.”