Mississippi State comes back home after a heartbreaking loss at Auburn, 24-20. They finish a home-and-home set with the Troy Trojans at Davis Wade Stadium and start a four-game home slate.
Who: Mississippi State (1-2) vs. Troy (2-1)
Where: Starkville, Miss.; Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field
When: Saturday, September 19; 6:30 p.m CT on Fox Sports South
Series Record: MSU leads, 2-1; The Last Time: MSU, 30-24 at Troy 2012.
About the Trojans
The Coaching: Troy is led by longtime Coach Larry Blakeney who has had quite the career at the school. The 23-year coach has led the Trojans to 171 wins during his time and seen his program go from Division-2 to Division-1 where they compete in the Sun Belt. His wins are more than the rest of the conference coaches combined during their time and the Trojans are one of the most successful teams in the conference with more bowl appearances than any other team. In fact, Blakeney has done so much at Troy, he is one of just two coaches that coach on a field named after him. Blakeney is seventh in the country among active coaches in wins just two behind Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.
The Offense: Oh the offense. Troy has lots of this. Led by senior Corey Robinson, the Trojans have built an impressive resume of putting yards up. Last season, they feel behind to the Bulldogs but stormed back nearly pulling off the upset on their way to nearly 600 yards. Robinson set an NCAA record in the opening game of the season against UAB throwing for a completion percentage of 93.8 on 30-32. The offense works well with short passes running at a fast pace that eventually set up for the big play.
Robinson is looking to become the fourth player in FBS history to throw for 3,000 yards in each of his four seasons and he can put a lot of yardage up in a short time. The short passes make the offense run well but they can really make some big plays as well. The Trojans have five pass plays covering 50 or more yards to lead the country.
Now let's breakdown just how prolific Robinson has been at Troy. He has nearly every record in school history including passing yards, attempts, completions and total offensive yards. He's 10 passing touchdowns away from the school record and 11 away in total touchdowns. Simply put, he's had a great career. As far as nationally, Robinson leads the country among active players in yards and completions and is right behind Aaron Murray of Georgia in total offense.
Robinson will be looking for Eric Thomas as his biggest threat at wide receiver. Thomas has compiled nearly 2000 yards in his Trojan career with 22 touchdowns. In the first three games, the Louisiana native has 14 catches for 260 yards and five touchdowns. Troy comes in averaging 44.7 points per game while putting up 547.3 yards (179.7 rushing, 367.7 passing).
The rushing attack is not a huge factor for the Trojans with the backup quarterback, Deon Anthony, leading the way on the ground with 208 yards through three games. Look for the Trojans to keep it in the air and test out MSU's young cornerbacks seeing if they play soft in coverage as they did against Auburn.
Defense: Troy's defense has not been known for completely shutting down offenses, at least not against FBS opponents. They do have an added boost bringing back Wayne Bolt, their former defensive coordinator 10 years prior, who made stops at UAB, Iowa State and Auburn. Bolt had tremendous success in his five years at Troy giving up just 290 yards per game and 15 points per.
The defense has added more aggressiveness up front with eight sacks in the first three games after recording just 13 a year ago. Sophomore defensive end Jadarius Gardner is a player to watch for Blaine Clausell after a two-sack performance where he also forced two fumbles during the second week of the season against Savannah State. The solid ball game garnered Sun Belt defensive player of the week honors for the defensive end.
While the Trojans give up 25 points per game, they have been solid at stopping the run at 116.7 yards per game. They've been a bit susceptible to the pass at 261.0 yards and that's an area that the Bulldogs can exploit.