Overmatched: Trojan defense tries to regroup after loss to Broncos

Published 8:21 pm Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Troy Trojans entered the 2018 season leaning on a defense that returned five starters. After a lackluster performance against the No. 22 Broncos, the Trojans are looking for answers.

The Trojans allowed 416 total yards of offense in their 56-20 loss to the Broncos in the season opener on Saturday.

“It was a very disappointing performance,” said head coach Neal Brown. “We gave up too many explosive plays and had zero takeaways. I thought our communication was poor and I thought attention to detail wasn’t good enough.”

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Senior quarterback Brett Rypien, a four-year starter for the Broncos, completed 20 of his 28 passes for 305 yards and had four touchdowns.

The Trojans allowed just one play that went over 50 yards throughout the entire 2017 season. On Saturday alone they let up two touchdowns of over 50 yards and one for 44 yards.

“They looked faster than us, at least from my observation,” said defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. “Some of that was because we hurt ourselves with our footwork and, again, you have to play the right leverage. We didn’t give the corners as much help as we had planned on because a couple of times the safeties, whether it was the spears or the safeties, never got to the middle of the field like they were supposed to.”

The most frustrating part of the afternoon for Koenning was the fact that the Trojans struggled the most in areas they had focused on all offseason.

It was disappointing that every series you come off to the side and try to correct things we have been doing since June 3 or whenever we started,” Koenning said. “That was disappointing. We had guys that didn’t do what we worked on for a long time. We truly busted one coverage for a touchdown on something that we have been running here for three years. To mess that up was mindboggling.”

On many instances, the Trojans struggles in the secondary happened because guys didn’t play where they were supposed to play.

“One was a complete blown coverage,” Brown said. “What we did poorly at corner is that we didn’t align properly. The one Blace (Brown) gave up on the big play he should have been playing inside leverage, protecting himself against the post. He played outside leverage and gave up a big play. A couple of them were little detail things and a couple of them they just made big plays.”

There were also times Rypien found receivers through a tight window and Brown was quick to give the senior his due credit.

“The first touchdown was a great throw,” Brown said. “Marcus (Jones) mistimed his jump, which he has done a couple times. Brett Rypien played really well. I think he was ready to go. He knew he didn’t play very well last year and he was ready to go from the onset. I thought he was right on the money and the (Sean) Modster kid made a ton of plays.”

Despite being successful in tight windows, Koenning saw little mistakes out of the secondary that allowed Rypien to find just enough room on Saturday. That little window was all he needed on Saturday.

“When you’re supposed to be out there playing halfway between number one and number two so you can take away the field of flats and you’re one yard from the tight end, then I think I could have thrown that,” Koenning said. “We just wouldn’t adjust. Boise for 15 years has been pretty good and they have been pretty good at receiver. They were good at receiver and they ran past some fast guys. Even if we made plays on some balls, they still ran by us.”

Like the rest of the team, the defense will take this week to flush out last Saturday’s performance and get ready to take on Florida A&M this Saturday back inside Veterans Memorial Stadium.

We have a lot of soul searching to do,” Koenning said. “This is a humbling game and lack of attention to detail is the number one reason why we got our butts kicked. Sometimes you have to get hit in the mouth to wake up. My heart is hurting and I am not going to be able to get over that one for a while.”