Trojans return from bye week to take on Southern Miss

Published 6:27 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Troy Trojans return from their bye week to host the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles on Saturday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

After knocking off Campbell in the season opener, the Trojans had an uncharacteristically early bye week. Now they are getting ready to take on the Golden Eagles for the first time since the 2016 season.

“I think it’s a cool matchup for our fans because of how similar we are to them,” said head coach Chip Lindsey said. “Both programs have had success for a long time and have a championship tradition. Regionally it’s a good matchup for our fans because of the proximity. It makes a lot of sense, and I know it’s something that the administration has looked at.”

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The Trojans won’t open up their conference schedule for a couple weeks. Lindsey believes this matchup with the Golden Eagles will go a long way in preparing the Trojans for the conference schedule.

“For us, it’s an opportunity for us to prepare like it’s a conference game, let it rip and see what happens,” Lindsey said. “The nice thing is that it won’t affect our goal of winning the Sun Belt Conference. I told our guys on Sunday that we need to just go out and play our best and see what happens.”

There will be familiar names and faces on Saturday. Former Troy Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain is now at Southern Miss and many coaches on both rosters know each other. Couple that with the close proximity of the two schools and your left with a rivalry.

“I can see where there would be a little bit of a rivalry with obviously the regional ties, the recruiting aspect,” said Trojan defensive coordinator Brandon Hall. “Both schools are very similar in their recruiting areas. I think there’s a lot of familiarity with the staffs, too. A lot of guys, Coach Lindsey knows a lot of those guys and vice versa. I think it’s an emotional game for both sides considering the locations. Obviously, it’s a big game for them and for us.”

The Trojans have had the extra week to prepare for the Eagles. They used the time to fix up a few mistakes that were made in the opener, while at the same time get healthy. Lindsey, however doesn’t think the extra week will give his team an added advantage.

“It might be an advantage. At the same time, it’s still so early in the season,” Lindsey said. “We’ve seen them for two games, and they’ve seen us for only one. I don’t know if it’s a huge advantage. I think what it allowed us to do, was to focus on the things we needed to clean up for this week. So, hopefully, we’ve done that. The other thing it allowed us to do, was to get a few guys healthy that may have gotten banged up. I hope we’re going to make our biggest improvement from week one to week two and play our best game on Saturday.”

On the field, the Golden Eagles offense has schematically looked different from week one to week two, leaving Hall to wonder what to expect on Saturday.

“We looked at their first game, but they were completely different in their second game,” Hall said. “Maybe some of that was Mississippi State. You do what you can. At the same time, unless you go back to last year and look at Jack Abraham, you really didn’t see him because he wasn’t in the first two games. It’s one of those deals like it’s your first game again. You hold onto your hat the first 15 plays and then adjust.”

Each year Troy’s non-conference schedule features two games against Group of Five teams. This game will feature the Sun Belt Conference going up against Conference USA.

“I’ve been in both conferences, and the first time I was in the Sun Belt, which has now been nine years ago, the quality top to bottom wasn’t what it is now,” Lindsey said. “There’s really good coaches now. It’s an opportunity for us to put two good conferences together and see where we are when it’s all said and done. If you look at the teams in that conference and the teams in our conference, I think they’re very similar from the standpoint of type of school, location and so forth. It’s hard to say this conference is better or this conference is that.”

Kickoff between the Trojans and Golden Eagles is set for 5 p.m.