Photo by Gerald Castillo
Texas State continues treacherous November slate with road game against Troy
Texas State’s treacherous November slate continues Saturday.
The Bobcats (3-7, 1-5 Sun Belt) travel to take on Troy (8-2, 6-0) at 2:30 p.m. inside Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, Ala.
Texas State is 1-1 in November. But following a 38-7 loss to Appalachian State, head coach Everett Withers said the Bobcats are going to have to be more prepared as it goes on the road to compete to win a conference game.
“Obviously, we’re playing a talented Troy team this week,” Withers said. “Again, another top team in our league. We’re going to finish the season that way with top teams in our league. So, (Troy’s) done a good job of the Sawyer Smith kid has done a really good job of coming in as a backup and playing well. He’s throwing the ball well, very efficient passer. Running back is probably, if not one of the top running backs in the league, he’s up there pretty high. He’s close to 1,000 yards rushing. Very talented wide receiver corps that we’ll play. So, a lot of good skill players. Great scheme. I think Neal (Brown) has done a really good job there at Troy.”
Despite seeing their first winning streak since 2014 snapped by App State, the Bobcats aren’t planning to back down when they take on Troy. Junior cornerback Anthony J. Taylor and sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Haydel both said this team has fight left in it after the loss to the Mountaineers.
“We got two games left, and we’re just going to finish strong,” Haydel said. “We got fight in us. We’re not just going to lay down. We’ve got Troy coming up. We’re going to prepare for them and we’re just going to give it all we got.”
Added Taylor: “I’m ready for (Troy). It’s another day. Another opportunity to get better. Another opportunity as a team to show our talents to the world. Just compete in the Sun Belt. So, I’m ready for it.”
Troy’s offense comes into Saturday’s contest as the No. 2 team in the Sun Belt in scoring offense (33.5 points per game) and No. 5 in total offense (418.6 yards per game).
The Trojans’ are without their starting quarterback Kaleb Barker, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury on Oct. 4 against Georgia State. But Troy’s offense hasn’t skipped a beat with redshirt sophomore quarterback Sawyer Smith behind center. Smith has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns.
He’s been aided with the presence of junior running back B.J. Smith, who’s racked up 946 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Senior wide receiver Damion Willis leads the receiving corps with 775 yards and eight touchdowns.
While Troy’s offense looks strong, the Trojans’ defense is even better. Troy only allows 354.9 yards per game, which ranks No. 2 in the Sun Belt in total defense and puts the Trojans at No. 38 in the nation. Troy’s rushing defense has stifled opponents by limiting them to 124 yards on the ground, which puts the Trojans at No. 27 in the country in rushing defense.
Withers says Troy’s strong defense starts with its front seven
“I think they’re talented in the front seven,” Withers said “… When you’re in the top half of the country, top quarter in the country, in run defense that’s usually where it starts and I think that’s where they start. And, I think consistency in what they’re doing on defense for the last two or three years they’ve been in the same system for a while. I think that’s important too.”
As Texas State continues the challenging November slate, Withers says it hasn’t been a challenge to prepare for these top Sun Belt teams. The goal each week remains the same — Win.
“Everybody’s got players that can beat you,” Withers said. “These teams have been the most consistent in our league. I don’t make the schedule so we have to play them one at a time and play them as they come. It hasn’t been tough to plan for them. We plan to go win the games. I thought we had a really good plan offensively (against App State), I thought we had a really good plan defensively. Now we were missing a couple starters on defense (Bryan London and JaShon Waddy) that might would’ve helped us a little bit.
“But this week we’ll hopefully have those guys back and hopefully go on the road and have a good offensive plan, which we started (Sunday) and have a good defensive plan and go compete and try to win the game.”
Texas State Gameday
Texas State at Troy
Where: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Troy, Ala.
When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Radio: KTSW 89.9; AM 1300 The Zone (1300 AM)