Game Preview: Troy opens Sun Belt slate at home against JMU

Published 1:29 pm Friday, September 15, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Troy Trojans (1-1, 0-0) are back at home this Saturday, Sept. 15, for the Sun Belt Conference opener against the James Madison Dukes (2-0, 0-0) at 6 p.m.

The Trojans are coming off a tough 42-20 loss to Kansas State last week.

“I talked a lot last week about effort and execution,” he continued. “When we executed last week we handled our business fine. There were so many self-inflicted things that we have to clean up.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We got beat by Kansas State – give them their credit – but we also got beat by ourselves, too. There are some guys that have played a lot of football here but there also some guys we’re going on to play that haven’t and they have to learn the details of how to do your job.”

Meanwhile, JMU knocked off the ACC’s Virginia 36-35 last week.

The Dukes are in their second season in the FBS after being one of the most successful FCS programs in the past decade. Since 2019, JMU is 43-8 and won conference championships 2019, 2020 and 2021. In James Madison’s first year in the FBS, the Dukes went 8-3 and became the first ever team to earn a Top 25 ranking in their first season in FBS.

“I think when you look at programs with sustained success and the culture they’ve built, James Madison is a really good blueprint of what that looks like,” Troy Coach Jon Sumrall said. “They’ve had a winning record for nine straight years now. That’s what we want to be. We had one winning season here and they’ve had nine in a row.

“They’re a well-established program with high standards and a culture of winning. We better get our hardhats on and get ready to play a physical, tough football game.”

In two games this season, JMU quarterback Jordan McCloud has completed 27-of-42 passes for 368 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Taurus Jones leads the defense with 17 tackles, three tackles-for-loss and one sack.

For Troy, Kimani Vidal has rushed or 342 yards on 42 carries in the first two games, while quarterback Gunnar Watson has completed 31-of-54 passes for 365 yards and five touchdowns. Reddy Steward leads the Troy defense with nine tackles, one tackle-for-loss, two interceptions and an interception return for a touchdown.

While this is the first time that Troy and JMU have met with both teams as a part of the FBS, it’s the third time overall. The two sides have played just twice before, a 27-7 Troy win in 1999 with JMU winning the other matchup in 1994.

Troy vs. JMU will air nationally on the NFL Network at 6 p.m. on Saturday.