Troy was coming off a double-digit win season and was returning all of their skill talent from a very good offense in 2016. Brandon Silvers was heading into his senior season as a four-year starter and was expected to put up some big numbers. The Trojans were heading to the blue turf in the opener and head coach Neal Brown called it a “measuring stick” game for the program.
We learned the Trojans have a long way to climb.
The Boise State defense absolutely dominated the Trojans from start to finish as the Broncos picked up a nice non-conference win, 24-13. For the day, the Trojans only ended with 215 yards of total offense and could only get 66 rushing yards on 29 carries. Oh, and the Trojans lost two fumbles and had one interception. In a game where everyone was thinking offense, the defenses came up big.
Vic Koenning’s unit put up a strong effort against a very solid offense as the Trojans held Boise State to only 357 total yards. The Broncos accumulated 210 yards on the ground but only put up 3.3 yards per carry. A Blace Brown pick-six would pull Troy within one position and the Trojans would stay there until a fourth quarter touchdown at the 2:12 mark. Melvin Tyus led Troy with seven tackles and Sam Lebbie produced two tackles for loss.
Boise State was led by running back Alex Mattison as the sophomore posted a solid 82 yards on 13 carries. The highlight came in the second quarter as Mattison hit paydirt from 49 yards out. Boise, in a surprise, played two quarterbacks as both Brett Rypien and Montell Cozart received snaps. Cozart, the Kansas transfer, was used mainly as a wrinkle in wildcat formations in the first half. However, he would lead the scoring drive that would put the game on ice in the fourth quarter. The two passers combined to finish 19-for-32 for 210 yards. This situation is one we all need to monitor closely going forward.
The highlight of the night, however, came in the special teams department as Boise’s Avery Williams would take the first punt of the game to the house from 81 yards out.
On defense, Sam Whitney led the Broncos in tackles with seven while Curtis Weaver recorded two sacks for Andy Avalos’ defense. The Broncos will be in contention once again in the Mountain West.
Moving forward for Troy, this game must be used as a learning experience. Outside of the road trip to LSU, the Trojans won’t face a tougher task than what they experienced in Albertsons Stadium. They’ve established that their defense has some nice building blocks in the front seven and the secondary is still capable of producing big plays.
But on offense, they have a lot to work on. The new look offensive line struggled for most of the night and the running backs suffered because of this. The Trojans had three fumbles, so the ball security issue must be addressed. For this offense to take off, however, Silvers must be more consistent from pocket and stay accurate in the quick game.
Don’t overreact to one performance, this team can still accomplish all of their goals in 2017. Trojans will get a week to fix their mistakes before they host FCS Alabama State. Then the following Saturday Troy faces a challenge in the road trip to Las Cruces as they take on New Mexico State in the Sun Belt opener.