Trojans welcome in No. 22 Boise State

Published 11:47 pm Friday, August 31, 2018

The Troy Trojans open up the 2018 season this evening against a team they hope to one day emulate. The No. 22 Boise State Broncos ride into Troy as the face of the Group of Five conferences. They are one of the winningest programs in the country over the last decade and a half, and for that reason they have earned the respect of Troy head coach Neal Brown.

“We are going to line up and play against a ranked opponent and this is a great opportunity this week to play against Boise,” Brown said. “I have a lot of respect for coach (Bryan) Harsin and his staff for what Boise has been able to do. Boise is where we are striving to be. They are annually a top Group of Five program and that is what we are trying to do at Troy.”

The Broncos enter the season with plenty of experience on both sides of the ball. Many of the players were on the field a year ago when the Broncos knocked off the Trojans 24-13.

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The Troy defense, which did all it could a year ago to keep the Trojans in the game, will have the task of slowing down four-year starting quarterback Brett Rypien. The senior received the bulk of the snaps a year ago and completed 13 of his 23 passes against the Trojans for 160 yards.

The bigger weapon for the Broncos may be at the running back position. Mattison eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark a season ago and scored 12 touchdowns.

“For them it all starts with their run game,” Brown said. “The more I watch the Mattison kid, the more respect I have for him. Last year against us was his first start, but man he got better as the year went.”

Four of the five starters along the offensive line are back this year for the Broncos.

The Trojans broke the news on Monday that junior quarterback Kaleb Barker will be the starter this evening. Barker completed 8 of his 13 passes last year for 143 yards and threw a touchdown. On the ground, the junior tallied 181 yards on 21 carries and had two rushing touchdowns.

Although he won’t start, redshirt sophomore Sawyer Smith will see some action this evening according to head coach Neal Brown.

Barker earned that opportunity, he had a great fall camp,” Brown said. “Sawyer Smith will play in the game and will have a role for sure.”

The two quarterbacks will try to lead the Troy offense to a better showing than last year’s offense. The Trojan offense amassed just 215 yards.

Although labeled as one of the biggest season openers in Veterans Memorial Stadium history, Brown believes this game is nothing more than a building block for bigger games down the road this season.

“This game is not going to make or break us,” Brown said. “Obviously, this is a game that we would like to win, but our goal is to be at the end and have a chance to play in the first-ever Sun Belt Championship game and host it here. This is a game that has national relevance and this is a game that can be used as a measuring stick for this program.”

Kickoff between the Broncos and the Trojans is scheduled for 5 p.m.