Troy faces quick turnaround against Georgia State

Published 6:56 pm Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Just five days removed from knocking off Coastal Carolina on Saturday afternoon, the Trojans host Georgia State this evening in front of a national audience.

The Trojans (4-1, 2-0) have rattled off four consecutive victories since their season-opening loss to Boise State. The Trojans defeated Coastal Carolina on Saturday giving them a 2-0 record in the conference, and more importantly a 1-0 record in division play.

That was a big win for us,” said head coach Neal Brown. “It gets us to 4-1, 2-0 in the Sun Belt and 1-0 in our division, which is carrying a lot of weight with the new format.”

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Tonight’s game gives the Trojans another opportunity to play at home against a divisional opponent, but this time it will be in front of a national audience.

It’s a huge game as we approach the midpoint of the season,” Brown said. “This is game six in a long spell. It is a divisional game; a national TV game and I hope we have an energized crowd here on Thursday night.”

Both teams are coming into the game on limited rest and practice time.

“The challenge is to make sure you manage it the right way. Georgia State and our guys played a really hot game on Saturday. That was the most humid game we have had all year and I’m pretty sure it was the same way in Atlanta, so I think it’s just how you manage it. 

The Panthers are coming off a lopsided win over Louisiana Monroe last week and now currently sit at 1-0 in conference play and 2-3 overall.

“Georgia State is coming off their best performance of the year. They easily defeated Monroe, 46-14, on Saturday,” Brown said. “I think Shawn Elliot and his staff have done a great job leading Georgia State to a bowl game in their first year and a big win over Western Kentucky in the Cure Bowl.”

The Trojans will have to contend with NFL prospect Penny Hart, arguably one of the conference’s top receiving and punt returning threats.

As a receiver, Hart has hauled in 41 passes for 446 and has two touchdowns. As a returner, Hart has one touchdown and is averaging 22 yards per return.

They’ve got an electric kick and punt returner in Penny Hart, maybe if not the best, one of the top NFL prospects in our league,” Brown said. “They may have the most talented wide receiver group in our conference led by Penny Hart. I think Hart is special.”

The Trojans allowed 317 yards against the Chanticleers in the win. The Panthers are averaging 361 yards and 22.8 points per game.

“Offensively, they had a big game on Saturday,” Brown said. “They are really multiple. I think coach (Travis) Trickett does a really nice job with them on offense. They do a good mix of run and pass; their quarterback Dan Ellington is a dual-threat guy, a kid that we recruited.”

Defensively, the Panthers allowed 262 yards of offense against the same ULM team that the Trojans held off a week prior.

“They are a 3-4 team and they are playing a lot of talented young guys and you see them getting better week in and week out. They held Monroe to 14 points and that game was never in question. They’re really an improving group; they have a bunch of veteran linebackers.

After Troy’s game this evening, they will be at the halfway point of the season. Although Brown would have preferred an undefeated start, he is happy with the fast start to the season.

You can’t finish well unless you start fast,” Brown said. “I think how you start your conference play is critical because, really, I talk about surviving and advancing. We win last week, we are 1-0 in our division and we survive and advance to an opportunity to play another game against Georgia State and that’s the way it is. Each and every week you are surviving and advancing, trying to get in a position where you can play and hopefully host that conference championship game.

Kick between the Panthers and Trojans is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU.