Preview: Trojans on the road at No. 15 Kansas State

Published 1:08 pm Friday, September 8, 2023

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The Troy Trojans (1-0) travel to No. 15-ranked Kansas State (1-0) in a battle of reigning conference champions this Saturday, Sept. 9.

Troy is currently on the second longest winning streak in the entire country with 12 straight wins, trailing only No. 1 Georgia. The Trojans wrapped up the 2022 season with a win over No. 22-ranked UTSA in the Cure Bowl last season. This will be Troy’s second Top 25 opponent in its last three games.

“They are a top 20 team and they look like it,” Troy Coach Jon Sumrall said of Kansas State. “They are big, they are physical and they are well coached. If we don’t play a lot better (than week one), it will be a blowout against us. This is a legit Top 20 football team, and we’ve got a tremendous challenge and a tremendous opportunity in front of us.”

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Troy picked up a 48-30 win over FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin last week, while Kansas State defeated FCS Southeast Missouri State 45-0. In week one, Troy rolled up more than 500 yards offense with running back Kimani Vidal breaking the single game school rushing record with 248 yards on 25 carries. He also amassed more than 300 yards all-purpose.

For Kansas State, the Wildcats amassed 588 total yards. Quarterback Will Howard completed 18-of-26 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns, while running back DJ Giddens earned 128 yards on the ground.

Troy and Kansas State have met just one time on the football field, a 41-5 Wildcat win back in 2003. Ryan Gilbert of 247Sports covers the Wildcats for and broke down what Trojan fans can expect from KSU.

“On offense, it all starts with (quarterback) Will Howard. Without question, he is the leader of the team and he has the keys to the offense,” Gilbert said. “The entire offensive line returns from last season, as well. If we had to pick one, Cooper Beebe is in charge of that bunch and has an NFL future ahead of him, but the entire group is full of leaders.

“On defense, K-State is much younger and perhaps lacks some depth. Safety Kobe Savage, despite being a second year JUCO transfer, is a hard-hitter. Along with him, veterans like Khalid Duke and Daniel Green keep the defense in tact.”

Gilbert also pointed to some other names that Troy fans should look out for on Saturday.

“K-State’s wide receiver situation is a bit odd right now. The Wildcats’ top (receiver), Keagan Johnson, missed (last) Saturday’s game due to injury but should be back,” Gilbert said. “His future is bright but he has yet to show anything on the field in purple. RJ Garcia is a playmaker who showed flashes last week, as well. Jadon Jackson had a monster first quarter but disappeared dafter that.

Apart from the (receivers), tight end Ben Sinnott is dangerous through the air. On the other side of the ball, cornerback Jacob Parrish has taken a big step forward from last year and will be counted on to make some plays.”

This week, Sumrall has made it clear that if Troy makes as many mistakes – especially turning the ball over – as last week, it won’t be much of a contest. Gilbert echoed those sentiments.

“If Troy wants a shot at an upset, it can’t turn the ball over four times like it did last week,” Gilbert emphasized. “Penalties and injuries are something that Troy must limit. As far as the Xs and Os go, Troy needs to take its shots through the air and try to take advantage of K-State’s relatively young secondary.

“I mentioned Jacob Parris as a player to watch but the depth behind him is slim at cornerback. Special teams can impact the game, as well. Nobody in the country emphasizes the third phase of the game more than K-State. K-State’s offense might be tough to stop, so pressuring Will Howard and trying to create turnovers is a bit risky, but might be worth it for Troy if it wants to come out of Manhattan with a (win).”

Troy and Kansas State will kickoff at 11 a.m. in a game that will be televised nationally on FS1.