Trojans travel to Mobile for showdown with in-state rival South Alabama

Published 5:37 pm Friday, December 4, 2020

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The Troy Trojans look to knockoff their in-state rival for the third consecutive time when they take on South Alabama on Saturday afternoon.

The Trojans and Jaguars will king things off at brand new Hancock Whitney Bank Stadium in Mobile beginning at 1 p.m.

The rivalry between Troy and South Alabama dates back to 2012. After winning in 2018 and 2019 the Trojans look to become the first team to win three consecutive games.

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The Jaguars (4-6, 3-4 SBC) broke a four-game losing streak last Saturday when they knocked off Arkansas State in Jonesboro, 38-31. The Trojans (4-5, 2-3 SBC) fell to Appalachian State last week, stretching their losing streak to three games. They have also lost four out of their last five games.

“We are coming off the trip to App State, and honestly, we just didn’t play well,” head coach Chip Lindsey said. “We had some good spurts where we played well on offense, but other than those few drives, we were hit and miss most of the night.”

The Trojans hope their defense bounces back this week after they allowed 40 points and 554 yards in their 47-10 loss to the Mountaineers.

“It was probably the worst game we played all year even though one of the touchdowns was the pick six,” Lindsey said. “We had a few bright spots but just too many missed tackles and missed assignments and that is what stood out to me. We knew that App State had a really good offense, and we would have to play well to have a chance to win, but we didn’t.”  

This week the Trojans will have to contend with quarterback Desmond Trotter, receiver Jalen Tolbert and a Jaguar offense that ranks third in passing yards in the Sun Belt Conference with 253 yards per game.

“It all starts with their quarterback Desmond Trotter,” Lindsey said. “He is a dual-threat guy, and South Alabama does a great job of using his skill set. They do a good job of protecting him to let him throw it deep but also using him in the run game. When you look at their team, their receiving core is very dynamic.”

Tolbert enters Saturday’s game second in the league with 5.9 catches per game. He is averaging 99.3 yards per game.

“His ball skills stand out to me,” Lindsey said. “He is a very talented guy in terms of his skill set, but his ball skills are great. He has a knack for making plays on contested catches. He is a very explosive guy that also played well last year but has taken another step in his game. He makes play after play and is one of the better receivers we have seen this year.”  

The Trojans offense mustered 10 points last week and 231 yards of offense. They did so by playing three different quarterbacks. After Gunnar Watson made the start, Parker McNeal and Kyle Toole both entered the game on Saturday.

“I felt like we needed to try something different because we weren’t getting what I wanted from that position,” Lindsey said. “The score dictated some of that too. It gave us the opportunity to give Parker McNeil and Kyle Toole a series to see what they could do in a live game situation. It was a good learning experience for both of them. We anticipate Gunnar being ready to go on Saturday and hopefully playing better.”  

Watson and the Trojan offense will be going up a Jaguar defense that ranks sixth in the conference in scoring defense (27 points), seventh in passing defense (258 yards) and eight in rushing defense (180 yards).

“Their defense has been playing extremely hard. The defensive line is a group of good big guys that do a great job of playing their scheme and making it tough on the offensive line. Riley Cole is a guy who leads their defense. He is a very talented player. He looks like he is very comfortable back at the linebacker position after he played on the ball more last season.

“I see a defense that is continuously getting better and will be a challenge for us. No matter who we are playing, if we don’t execute better offensively then it is going to be tough.”

This will be Troy’s fourth trip to Mobile. The Trojans knocked off the Jaguars in three of the four matchups in Ladd Peebles Stadium.