It would be far too easy for the Sun Belt’s top ranked team to look past the Troy Trojans, especially with the only other unbeaten Sun Belt team coming to town next Thursday. The Mountaineer offense has defenses on their heels and the black and gold defense is head and shoulders above everyone else in the conference. Last year they started their six game winning streak against the club from Alabama when they crushed the Trojans 53-14 in Troy. The could end up being similar on Saturday, but Scott Satterfield’s squad can’t overlook a Troy team that just keeps getting better.
If you look at the Trojans offensive numbers, there aren’t many impressive ones. This unit only scores just over 24 points per game which is 8th in the conference. They’re 330 yards per game is second to last. The ground game only generates 123 yards per contest. They only convert one-third of the time on third down and they have a poor average time of possession. It looks like a complete matchup nightmare for the Trojans. To be fair, the numbers are skewed because of the three huge programs they’ve played combined with the fact that starting quarterback Brandon Silvers was out for the last two games.
The defensive side of the ball is a different story. Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning has one of the best defenses in the Sun Belt. Koenning comes in this season from North Carolina where his team was twice ranked in the top 12 in the country in tackles for loss. In his first season, Troy has the 3rd best scoring defense in the conference, behind App State and Georgia Southern. They only give up 26.9 points per game, and they have played North Carolina State, Wisconsin and Mississippi State. They give up less than 200 yards per game on the ground and only 185 passing yards per bout. They trail only Appalachian State in total sacks for the year. Linebacker William Lloyd leads the way with 50 tackles in his junior campaign which ties John Law for 10th in the conference. Floating linebacker Tyler Roberts and defensive end Rashad Dillard disrupt quarterbacks with 3.5 sacks a piece. With Mountaineers’ starting right tackle Beau Nunn questionable, this is the biggest concern for the week.
Let’s be honest, App State should win a one sided affair in this game, but being at the top of the conference means you’re going to get every opponents’ best game. Troy comes in with the most confidence they’ve had all season after a 52-7 win over the mess that is New Mexico State. Quarterback Brandon Silvers threw for five touchdowns in the first half. Running back Brandon Burks ran for 138 yards and a touchdown. They can ruin the Mountaineers’ season with a shocking upset on the road at Kidd Brewer Stadium Saturday afternoon.
A win over New Mexico State gains some confidence, but confidence doesn’t win games on its own. App State’s defense shouldn’t have trouble with Troy. Their offensive line has six guys who have started their first college game this season. The Neers defense has shut down opponents’ running games and have made it look effortless. The sack leaders Ronald Blair, Nate Norwood and John Law should be able to get pressure on a questionable offensive line when Troy tries to open things up through the air. The game plan won’t change for the Mountaineers’ top Sun Belt ranked offense. The offensive line, even without Beau Nunn will create enough space for Marcus Cox and company to establish the run to set up Taylor Lamb’s efficient passing attack. They’ve won 11 of the last 12 games, and Troy won’t be the team to slow them down. The Apps roll.
Prediction: Appalachian State 37, Troy 10
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