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Texas State vs. Troy Preview

It’s senior day at The Vet.

NCAA Football: Troy at Louisiana State
Neal Brown and Troy will be looking to achieve their second consecutive nine-win regular season on Friday.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Start Time: Friday, November 24th, 4:00 PM ET

TV: ESPN3

Streaming: WatchESPN.com

Announcers: Brett Dolan (play-by-play) and Ken Dunek (analyst)

Location: Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000)

Series: Troy leads 6-1

Odds: Troy (-24.5) 49.5 total


Texas State Outlook

The end is nigh for Texas State’s 2017 campaign and the Bobcats are facing yet another double-digit loss season but in the face of despair improvement can be seen on the field but wins haven’t and it’s been exhausting to watch if you follow Texas State football.

This late season offensive explosion has been a breath of fresh air and has given some promise of what a more mature 2018 team can do. Save for some last minute misfortunes we could be looking at a five-win team on the brink of being bowl-eligible

NCAA Football: Texas State at Wyoming
Damian Williams has been very good for the Bobcats in the final weeks of the season.
Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

After a three week stretch of averaging 486.7 yards of total offense and 28 first downs a game, the Arkansas State defense put a stranglehold on the ‘Cats holding them to a paltry 188 yards of total offense and a season low 11 first downs. Willie Jones III at quarterback may be the future but the best bet for a Texas State win goes through the graduate signal caller Damian Williams. Williams had been on a hot streak as of the last three games but had a tough go in the windswept land of Jonesboro last weekend only gaining 103 yards in the air and completing 34.8% of his passes. Troy, Alabama’s forecast on Friday will be much friendlier and most importantly will have mild wind.

Injuries and dismissals have decimated the Bobcats in the past few weeks. Outside linebacker Easy Anyama started at defensive end last week and Aaron Brewer, the multi-use lineman, started at left tackle after playing at center and guard this season. Expect more of the same from Texas State as the coaching staff will no doubt put together a patchwork lineup in the trenches.

For State to win though it’s going to have to be what has worked in the past few weeks. Speed and ball movement through gadget plays and misdirection, catching some breaks on defense and playing mistake-free ball especially if the defense cannot produce takeaways. The playmakers for Texas State i.e.: Williams, Taylor, King, London and Loyd need to have a game for the ages to pull out an upset against a Sun Belt powerhouse.


Troy Outlook

The Trojans are coming off their final bye week of the season with an 8-2 record after the impressive blowout win over Coastal Carolina. After a very slow start, it appears the offense may have finally found some mojo in the last month of the season.

After the embarrassing performance against South Alabama, the Trojans have now scored at least 34 points in three of the last four outings as the offense is beginning to show some consistency.

Jordan Chunn has been outstanding at running back when healthy, but his three fumbles are worrisome. Josh Anderson and Jamarius Henderson have both been solid backup options as this is the best backfield in the Sun Belt. In the air, the passing game has been a disappointment all season as Troy has thrown only seven touchdowns and six interceptions. The big plays have just not been there all season but senior Brandon Silvers is completing 62.8% of his passes.

On the outside, juniors Deondre Douglas and Damion Willis have been Troy’s best weapons as each is averaging over 12 yards per catch. Inside, seniors Tevaris McCormick and Emanuel Thompson are the passing game’s top target underneath.

The defense has carried the way all season for this squad and the Trojans clearly have the best unit in the Sun Belt in 2017. S&P+ currently has this defense as the 20th best in the FBS this season as the Trojans haven’t given up more than 24 points in any game this season. Linebackers Tron Folsom and Sam Lebbie have both been outstanding all season as they’ve combined for 13 non-sack tackles for loss and are a huge reason why this run defense has been so good.

NCAA Football: Troy at Louisiana State
Marcus Jones is proving to be a playmaker in the kick return game.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

After an horrific start, we’ve seen some improved play from the third phase as punter Tyler Sumpter has been automatic since taking over the place kicking duties. After an ugly performance against South Alabama, true freshman Marcus Jones has been solid as a return man and took to kickoffs back for six in the win over Coastal Carolina.


Prediction

As the guys in Vegas tell us, this one should get ugly on Friday afternoon. Troy is a team playing for a conference title while Texas State has nothing to play for in a brutal second season for Everett Withers and this program. It’s senior day, emotions, will be high, and Texas State must strike early to have a shot.

Adam: Texas State hangs tough early, but Troy’s defense and running game takes over in the second half. Troy 30, Texas State 10.

Vidal: Like inappropriate comments at the dinner table I’m looking for the Bobcats to ruin the Trojans’ thanksgiving weekend. Gimme the 36-34 upset on Black Friday.