Trojans step out of conference against the Zips

Published 3:00 am Friday, September 22, 2017

The Troy Trojans return home to Veterans Memorial Stadium this weekend for their first ever matchup with the Akron Zips on Saturday evening.

The Trojans (2-1, 1-0) step out of conference to take on the Zips a week after picking up their first conference win over the New Mexico State Aggies last weekend.

It will be their second of three home Saturday games of the season. The Trojans knocked off Alabama State 34-7 in the home opener.

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This week, our team is really excited about not getting on a plane,” said head coach Neal Brown. “We’re excited about staying home and getting back in front of our home crowd. We’re expecting another huge crowd here. We’ve got really two groups of people that we’re celebrating this week.”

The University will honor current and former members of the military during the game. Troy will also celebrate Band Day along with Boy Scout and Special Olympics Day.

On the field, the Trojans have never played the Zips, but they are coming with a familiar name patrolling the sidelines. Former Auburn and North Alabama head coach Terry Bowden returns to the state of Alabama as head coach of the Zips.

Terry Bowden has done a great job there,” Brown said. “I think he’s one of the winningest coaches Akron has ever had. I’m sure it’ll be a special game for him. They held the Bowden Family Camp here for several years and a lot of his family can get back here, too.”

The Zips, out of the Mid American Conference, enter Saturday’s game with a 1-2 record after defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff and falling to Penn State and Iowa State.

Akron is a quality football team,” Brown said. “They’ve played a really difficult schedule after playing Penn State, a top 5 team, and then last week played a much-improved Iowa State team. They really played them close, but turned the ball over in the second half and let the game get away from them.”

The Trojans defense is allowing 10.3 points per game over the first three weeks. The Zips come to Troy averaging 22 points per game. In their lone win, they scored 52 points against the Lions. They were shutout by Penn State and were held to 14 against the Cyclones.

Offensively, they’re really balanced,” Brown said. “They have a quarterback named [Thomas] Woodson who is really accurate. They’ve been throwing the ball a good bit this year. Their running back, [Warren] Ball, is an Ohio State transfer. He’s very similar to Jordan [Chunn]; he’s a big, physical kid that runs downhill.”

The Trojans offense took another step in the right direction in last week’s win. They put up 476 yards and scored 27 points. In their first three games led by quarterback Brandon Silvers, the Trojans have averaged 434 yards.

The Zips defense has been vulnerable in their two losses against their Power 5 opponents. In their two losses, they have allowed 538 yards.

They attack you and hit you from a number of angles,” Brown said. “Their corner, [Kyron] Brown, is probably the best cover guy that we’ve played all season. Linebacker Ulysses Gilbert is really active and up front [Jamal] Davis does a really nice job of using his hands and plays good pad level.”

Offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield expects the Zip to mix things up on defense.

“They’ll pressure some and play coverage. I’m sure they’ll try to mix it up. One thing that New Mexico (State) tried to do, and I think when people see he’s had success, is they try to change up the coverages just to give him a different look so it’s not so easy for him. I’ll imagine they’ll do some of that.”

The Zips and the Trojans will kick off at 5 p.m.