The Troy Trojans were able to get their first win of the 2015 season at home against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers by a final score of 44-16. Several factors led to Neal Brown's team walking away with a win, but here are the five biggest things that stood out to me from Saturday night's win.
Balanced Trojan Passing Attack
No matter what adjustments the Charleston Southern Buccaneer defense made, Neil Brown's Trojans had an answer. Troy came out of the gate firing, putting the ball in the end zone in less than a minute thanks to several completions down the field. Troy capped the drive off with a touchdown strike from Brandon Silvers to Teddy Ruben. They came out just as aggressive on their second drive, one that ended on another Silvers-to-Ruben touchdown pass.
Coming out on their next two possessions, the Buccaneer defensive adjustments slowed down Troy's deep passing attack, forcing punts on each of the drives. The Trojans then opted to attack using short, quick passes, a strategy that proved successful for the remainder of the game. Charleston Southern was now forced to cover the short routes as well, allowing the Troy coaching staff to breakout the occasional deep throw. Brandon Silvers finished with 249 passing yards.
The special teams units did not do a whole lot to help either team in Saturday night's game. After the Trojan offense exploded early in the first quarter, Troy punter Ryan Kay dropped a bad snap and was subsequently brought down by the Buccaneers, setting up Charleston Southern inside the Trojan 20 yard line. The Buccaneers converted easily, giving them the offensive confidence they needed after two ugly drives to begin the game.
Charleston Southern punter Truett Burns gave the Trojans great field position several times off of poor punts, each of those leading to scoring drives for Troy. He also took a huge loss on a fake punt rather than throwing the ball away.
The Trojans were able to get one positive from their special teams, as Teddy Ruben returned a punt for a touchdown in the second half.
Charleston Southern Third Downs
The Charleston Southern Buccaneers run an option-based attack, and if you know anything about the triple option offense, you know how devastating third-and-long can be. The triple option is a run-relianted scheme, and consistently putting yourself in passing situations can make for a long night.
That's exactly what Charleston Southern did. For much of the first half, the Buccaneers found themselves needing eight or nine yards on third down. They were unable to convert more often than not, making things much easier for the Troy defense.
Both teams received exceptional performances from their respective running backs.
For Troy, senior running back Brandon Burks received the majority of the carries with 14, but the team saw production from several backs throughout the course of the game. Andre Flakes rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown and Jordan Chunn had 31 yards on the ground to go along with Burks' 50 and two touchdowns.
Charleston Southern got the majority of their production from junior running back Darius Hammond, who rushed for 161 yards on the night.
As I mentioned earlier, the triple option offense relies heavily on the run. With three potential ball carriers (hence the name), it takes a very disciplined defense to slow the opposing offense down. The goal is to force them into long yardage situations, and disciplined defense is a critical part of doing that. For many drives during the game, the Trojan defensive front and linebacking group were able to stay on their assignments and bring down ball carriers for little-to-no gain. This allowed Troy to jump out to a big lead, one they would keep from start to finish.