Troy Trojans (5-2, 2-1) vs. Georgia Southern Eagles (0-6, 0-2)
Location: Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000)
Time: Saturday October 28th, 3:30 EST/2:30 CT
Series: Troy leads 10-6 (’16 GS 28-24)
Odds: Troy -26 O/U 50.5
Two programs heading in opposite directions will battle it out in Troy, Alabama Saturday afternoon. Troy will be 26 point favorites in the game against the Georgia Southern Eagles, as it should be. Troy is back to the form they enjoyed from 2006-10 when they won five Sun Belt conference championships in a row. Neal Brown has proven to be a tremendous selection to replace Troy legend, Larry Blakeney.
The Trojans dismantled a decent Georgia State team in Atlanta last week 34-10. We all know how they beat LSU. Aside from a Wednesday night #FunBelt slip up against rival South Alabama (forgivable this season has been a lesson in how dangerous midweek games are for good teams); Troy has been the class of the conference.
With App State struggling with the likes of Idaho and Coastal Carolina, the path is there for Troy to win the conference. They are on a collision course with Arkansas State, who they play to finish the season on December 2nd.
Georgia Southern. on the other hand. just fired their head coach Tyson Summers; you might have heard something about that. In his place is a man that starts every day with a tall glass of Eagle Creek Water (please do not try that at home unless you want botulism), Chad Lunsford.
Lunsford has already set a different tone in his first week as interim head coach of the Eagles. “Show up ’cause we’re gonna show out.”
If Eagles fans need something to keep them warm at night, it should be the fact that Troy hasn’t beaten Georgia Southern since they joined the Sun Belt. In fact, Troy hasn’t won a matchup against Georgia Southern since 1992. The Eagles defeated the Trojans 28-24 in the regular season finale last year, a win that probably saved Tyson Summers’ job, temporarily.
But that’s about it. Troy is a much better team, the class of the conference. The Eagles just lost to UMass by 35 points and fired their coach. That’s the definition of rock bottom.
Troy is led by their senior QB Brandon Silvers. Despite a slow start to the season, and a lousy performance vs. South Alabama, Silvers bounced back and had a stellar game vs. Georgia State. Passing for 335 yards and 2 TDs with 1 INT. He spread the ball around to 9 different receivers on the day. I have a feeling he’s starting to heat up.
Troy running back Jordan Chunn might return Saturday after missing a game due to an 18-stitch leg laceration, but the Trojans might sit him out as a precaution. Neal Brown said is comfortable going with Josh Anderson and Jamarius Henderson if needed.
Deondre Douglas, Emmanuel Thompson, Damion Willis, and Tevaris McCormick are Silvers’s favorite targets at receiver.
But I would be remiss in my duties if I did not give Troy’s defense their due. 14th in the country in PPG. There’s a reason they beat LSU in Death Valley.
Antoine Barker and Zo Bridges lead the way on the defensive line with 5.5 sacks and 9.5 TFLs between the two. senior MLB Sam Lebbie might be playing on Sundays next year. Cedarius Rooker and Tron Folsom (amazing name) are hard hitters. No rest for the weary Eagles.
What to watch out for:
- How many changes does Chad Lunsford make? Nathan Deen of the Savannah Morning News has already cautioned the fanbase against expecting the under-the-center flexbone that is so beloved in southeast Georgia. But Chad Lunsford takes Eagle Creek Water injections everyday (again, please do not attempt this at home unless you want Typhoid). I wouldn’t put it past him to line up for a play or a series in it. They did practice is a little in fall camp. But I’d caution against those expectations as well. It’s been a crazy week.
- The Georgia Southern QB situation. Kado Brown looks like the starter for now. Nobody knows how injured Shai Werts actually is, but the youngster deserves a rest for now. Meanwhile the loss last week wasn’t completely Brown’s fault. A series of comical errors let the UMass game slip away early before the offense could even get settled. Brown showed flashes of something interesting, look for LaBaron Anthony to come in on passing downs however (better arm).
- Has Brandon Silvers turned the corner? Silvers has thrown for a pedestrian 4 TDs and 4 INTs this season, 2 of those TDs came last week. Far cry from his 23 TDs he threw last year. It has been Troy’s defense and running game that has carried them this far. But if Troy wants to beat Arkansas State, Silvers has a run of games against the bottom half of the conference coming up. Perfect time to light it up.
- Jordan Chunn. Will Troy’s leading rusher play? Or will he sit? Does it matter? Probably not.
- Lorenzo Costantini. Eagles defense is 127th in the country, giving up 41 point per game. It was 21st in 2015. Our defense, especially the secondary was supposed to be our strength. He should have been canned along with Tyson Summers. Let’s see if it gets any better.
Georgia Southern 24
I think Chad Lunsford will give the Eagles a little extra umph this weekend. The team will probably be a little more focused. Which I translate to possibly covering the spread. I’m not going to go crazy yet. As much as I would like to believe that Lunsford is the next Dabo Swinney (long-time assistant-turned-interim), it’s about winning games.
Everything is positioned here for Troy to get its first victory over Georgia Southern since 1992. They’re a much better team. Eagles put up a fight, but Trojans roll.