Trojans host in-state rival South Alabama

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The nation will be watching on Wednesday when the Troy Trojans welcome in the South Alabama Jaguars in the latest installment of the ‘Battle for the Belt’ rivalry.

The Trojans enter the game coming off a loss to the Missouri Tigers of Southeastern Conference and find themselves 2-3 overall on the season. They are 0-1 in conference play after they lost the conference opener to Arkansas state.

The Jaguars find themselves 1-5 overall and 0-2 in conference play. Their lone win came against Jackson State in week two. Their conference losses have come to ULM and Georgia Southern last week in double overtime.

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Just one game into conference play, the Trojans have played one less game than every other team in the Eastern Division. Defending champion Appalachian State leads the division with a 2-0 record.

“We cannot allow ourselves to get behind and dig ourselves a hole we cannot get out of,” head coach Chip Lindsey said. “The good thing about us is that we control our own destiny. All our goals are still out there. We just need to play well and continue to improve each week.”

Lindsey believes the Jaguars record is misleading at 1-5 after they have played a tough early schedule that featured Nebraska and UAB.

“They’re a really good team,” Lindsey said. “I think the record is misleading because they’ve played a really good schedule. They played Nebraska who is currently 4-2 (now 4-3), played Memphis who is currently 5-0 (now 5-1) and they played UAB. ULM had a great opportunity to beat Florida State, so you’re talking about a team who has played some quality opponents and it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

The Jaguar offense is averaging just over 16 points per game while averaging 387 yards per game. Quarterback Cephus Johnson leads the offense. The 6-foot-5 quarterback has completed 53.6 percent of his passes and he has totaled 708 yards and has five touchdowns and five interceptions.

“He is a good looking player,” Lindsey said. “He’s a sophomore, so he’s still young but he’s very talented. He’s a really good athlete who can throw the deep ball.”

Johnson’s two leading receivers are Kawaan Baker and Jalen Tolbert, who have a combined 571 yards and four touchdowns.

“Both are long and can get the ball down the field,” Lindsey said. “They have a combined 30 receptions this season and Baker has three touchdowns on the year.”

The Trojans offense has been an area of strength for the Trojans this season. They are averaging 450 yards per game, good enough for fourth best in the conference. They are second in the conference with 307 passing yards per game. The Trojans will be going up a Jaguar defense that has allowed 400 yards per game, good enough for fifth in the conference. The Trojans come in the game sixth best.

The Jaguars allow 170 rushing yards per game.

“Their front is impressive,” Lindsey said. “They have some really big and athletic guys. Tyree Turner is a guy who has been banged up for them, but we plan on him playing. Their linebackers are very solid. I think their defensive backs are really good too. They all tackle well it seems like, they complete and they’re well-coached. It’ll be a big challenge for us because they play a different style of defense then we’ve seen so far this season.”

The Trojans currently hold the belt after they knocked off the Jaguars last season 38-17 in Mobile. The road team has won the last four meetings.