Start Time: 6:00 P.M. ET, Saturday, Sept. 5
Location: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, North Carolina
Records: First meeting between the two programs.
Live Stats: Here.
Betting Line: North Carolina State -26, Over/Under of 59
Troy Outlook: The Trojans decided to go the youth route in 2014 with quarterback Brandon Silvers (191-271/1,836/11TD). Named to the 2014 Sun Belt All Newcomer team, Silvers should see significant improvement this fall with 11 starts under his belt and the trust of new head coach Neal Brown. The Trojans return the top two leading rushers from last fall in Brandon Burks (96/584/3TD, 23/181/1TD) and junior Jordan Chunn (111/505/6TD). Third string running back Andre Flakes will be expected to take his first carries at running back after playing on special teams as a true freshman. Starting wide receivers Bryan Holmes (34/474/5TD), Jarvis Bentley (9/55/0TD), Teddy Ruben (15/212/1TD), and K.D. Edenfield (21/147/0TD) do not have the gaudy stats of Troy receivers in the past but did a great job of helping a redshirt freshman find his way last fall. The biggest offensive question mark is on the offensive line. Only left tackle Antonio Garcia (18 career starts) and center Dalton Bennett (24 career starts) made starts for the Trojans last fall with Bennett's name popping up on both the Lombardi and Rimington Watch Lists.
Tyler Roberts (48 tkl, 9.5 tfl, 5 sacks) is the player to watch on the Trojan defense after an impressive season last fall. The senior was by far the most explosive defensive lineman for the Trojans and it will be certain that every Troy opponent will know where Roberts is on every play this fall. Nose tackle Lonnie Gosha (27 tkl, 3 tfl, 2.5 sacks), should get the majority of the snaps in the middle of the Trojan defense. The Trojan secondary begins and ends with senior free safety Montres Kitchens (88 tkl, 6 INT, 7 pd). The hard hitting safety was named to the 2014 1st team All-Sun Belt and well as the 2015 Thorpe Award Watch List. At both cornerback positions, the Trojans could easily start players that were not with the program last fall in JUCO transfer Jalen Roundtree and UAB transfer LaMarcus Farmer. Both are very talented players and distanced themselves from their competition.
North Carolina State Outlook: Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett was solid at quarterback for the Gators last year with over 2,600 yards passing and and only five interceptions on the season. Running backs Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes return this fall along with several other talented players including Johnny Frasier, Reggie Gallaspy and Nyheim Hines looking to carry the rock. Wide receiver and offensive line are both major question marks with very little returning depth or experience from the 2014 squad.
The Wolfpack have lots of depth on the defensive line with Mike Rose, Justin Jones, B.J. Hill, Kenton Gibbs and Monty Nelson all back after productive seasons last fall. Sophomore Kentavius Street could also be a key player on the inside. Linebackers Jerod Fernandez and Airius Moore should be solid contributors for the defense after getting acclimated to playing time last fall. All five starters return in the secondary and should give many of the teams on their schedule fits in the passing game.
Prediction: Troy is slowly improving since the program fell off a cliff from competing for Sun Belt titles to bringing up the rear. That improvement is a bit moot versus a team as talented as North Carolina State. The Wolfpack bring too many challenges for the Trojan defense to stop and while it may be a close game for a half, the second half will see NC State turn this game into a rout. If Troy stays healty and keeps the score reasonable, that is a (hate to say it) moral victory.