The Boise State Broncos are used to opening with huge non-conference games. The Trojans of Troy might not be at the same level of previous teams, but should be a test for the Broncos.
Once upon a time, in the bygone days of season’s past, the Boise State Broncos football were the underdogs in big games. They were the team vanquishing mighty foes, leaving behind a trail of giants en route to league titles and Fiesta Bowl victories.
The accolades for the Troy Trojans haven’t rolled in just yet, but they are on their way to building something special.
Boise State will find out for themselves when Troy visits on September 2.
Troy put up a 10-3 record in 2016, capped off by a 28-23 bowl win over Ohio. It was the first 10-win season in the FBS for the Trojans, who joined the FBS in 2001.
In week 11, the Trojans were ranked 25th (also a first) and seemed destined for a Sun Belt Conference title. This was before losses to Georgia Southern (28-24) and Arkansas State (35-3) thwarted those plans.
Earlier in the season, Troy took eventual national champion Clemson to the wire before ultimately losing 30-24.
Playing out of the Sun Belt might have a few disadvantages, but as Troy proved last season they can compete. And with a plethora of returning skill players on offense, they young Broncos defense might have their hands full.
Troy on offense
The success of an offense ultimately falls on the shoulders of a quarterback. In senior Brandon Silvers, the Trojans have an experienced leader and a third-year starter.
Silvers was first-team all-conference in the Sun Belt in 2016. He threw for 3,180 yards but only went above the 300-yard plateau once. Silvers threw for 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
He ran for 201 yards, but won’t be asked to do tons of running. A stable of backs return in 2017, led by Jordan Chunn.
Chunn, a senior, ran for 1,339 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016. He logged five 100-yard games, with a season-high 176 against Southern Mississippi.
Silvers will have plenty of options in the passing game as well. Senior Emanuel Thompson and Deondre Douglas both are back, a season after combining for 140 receptions, 1,560 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
On the line, the Trojans are replacing three starters from a season ago. Overall, Troy averaged 33.7 points per game in 2016.
Trojans on defense
Troy’s defense had a pretty solid 2016, doing an almost complete opposite of Boise State in accumulating 30 takeaways. Interceptions were high on this list as the Trojans had 22.
The secondary will be the highlight of this unit, led by experienced players across the board. Auburn transfer Kamryn Melton will likely be starting at one cornerback position, with Blace Brown at the other. Brown had six picks in 2016.
Both safeties are also back for another go around. The experience and depth of the unit will do their best to give Bronco quarterback Brett Rypien fits.
The front seven–while experienced with returning six players who started at least one game–will be sorely missing one piece. Rashad Dillard was the Sun Belt’s defensive player of the year in 2016. Dillard graduated and took with him 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
Zo Bridges is a player to keep an eye on as far as edge rushers go. He will be looking to anchor a unit that held opponents to 120.2 yards per game on the ground in 2016.
The Trojans graduated Ryan Kay, who handled both the kicking and punting duties so special teams will be green heading into week 1.
Troy is still looking for their statement game victory. I don’t think it will happen on the blue, but they will certainly be arriving with something to prove.