Despite falling by a final of 49-21 in the team's season opener, Troy head coach Neal Brown told reporters that he saw a lot of positives in the loss. The team will look to build on what they did right last week and display a revamped, resilient attack this week against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.
Start Time: 7:00 PM ET
Location: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Troy, Alabama
The Buccaneers: On the surface, Troy's week two challenger does not appear to offer much of a challenge. Don't let school names and first impressions fool you, the Trojans will have to be locked in if they are to come out of their home opener with win number one. Charleston went 8-4 last season, with two of those defeats coming against Georgia and Vanderbilt (by one!). The team went 10-3 the season before.
The Buccaneers run a unique, option oriented system, one that could be problematic for the Trojans. Led by senior quarterback Austin Brown, Charleston Southern can throw a multitude of different looks at a defense. Unlike your typical option offense quarterback, Brown can beat a defense with both his legs and his arm. His option partner, running back Ben Robinson, is just as deadly as Brown. When Brown opts to hand him the ball, he is always a threat for a big play and can easily pick up solid chunks of yardage.
Defensively, the Buccaneers bring back eight starters from last year's team, a team that led the Big South Conference in almost every defensive category. With so many returning starters and another year of experience, that defense may be even better than it was before.
The Trojans: For Troy, stopping the option has to be a focus from the start. With a very good dual threat quarterback and a speedy, elusive running back, Neal Brown and the Troy coaching staff need to have their defense focused and determined heading into Saturday's game. The Trojan head coach thinks that will be case after last week's second half performance against NC State.
When asked what he learned about his team in their season opener, Brown specifically mentioned the resiliency shown by his defensive unit:
"I didn't think they backed down. Sometimes, you get in those atmospheres - it was a good atmosphere, a good crowd, right around 60,000. It got loud, especially when we made it a game in the third quarter, and the end of the second quarter. It got loud and I thought our kids really stepped up. I was proud of our defense coming back. They had to play in a lot of plays. Plenty of times to give in, but they showed character and discipline. We played a much better second half as far as discipline, getting aligned, fewer mental mistakes.''
Playing disciplined is critical against an option-based offense, so if we see a similar brand of defense to what they showed in the second half against the Wolfpack, the Trojans will have a good shot at keeping the Buccaneer attack in check.
On the offensive side, look for the Trojans to take a run-first approach out of the gate. Senior running back Brandon Burks rushed for 124 yards on 14 carries last week. Troy will look to feed the hot hand and breakout the occasional play action pass to keep the defense on their heels.
Regardless of what the Troy Trojans do on offense, the game will be decided on defense. The Charleston Southern Buccaneers may not be as big of a name as Troy, but they have a creative system in place, one that has proven consistently effective and can provide exciting plays at any point.
Prediction: With a focused, disciplined defense and an effective running attack, the Troy Trojans win by a final score of 31-21. The Buccaneer offense has its moments, but overall the Trojan defense keeps them in check. A healthy mix of run and play action passing allow Troy to move the ball down the field on multiple occasions, and Troy picks up their first win of the season to improve to 1-1.