What does Troy do on Offense?
The Trojans run a pretty similar offensive scheme to what we see from the Cowboys. They run most plays out of the shotgun and no huddle, and they try to get off quick passes and misdirection runs to get their playmakers into open space. They like to rotate guys a lot at the skill positions as was evidenced in the Bowling Green game where 4 different RB/WR's had at least 5 carries, and 11 different Trojans recorded a reception.
Another thing the Troy offense likes to do to keep defenses off balance, is run out of a lot of different formations. A lot of 3 and 4 WR sets with the WR's grouped in different ways, and they even run a little wildcat. Their main objective out of these formations is to get the ball into the hands of WR Jerrel Jernigan, or RB Shawn Southward. Both are undersized playmakers who can make things happen in any situation. But defenses can't just focus on these two as RB DuJuan Harris and WR Tebiarus Gill are also primary weapons for the Trojans. At QB, they feature a Redshirt Freshman in Corey Robinson. Corey had a decent game last week going 25/37 for 252 yards, a TD, and 2 Ints. Robinson is a bit of a gunslinger who broke all kinds of High School passing records on his way to being named Mr. Football for the state of Kentucky.
With all the speed on the field for the Trojans on offense, and all the fresh legs they like to run out there, this should provide us with a good barometer of the speed of the Oklahoma State defense. After all the comments from Bill Young coming out of practices about how this is the fastest defense he has ever worked with, this matchup with the ultra-quick Troy offense will put that speed to the test. If the Cowboys D can hold the Trojans to a low output, then we can start expecting big things from this defense for the rest of the season.
What does Troy do on Defense?
I'll tell you what they don't do, they don't utilize Bear Woods anymore as he is off to the NFL (hey, it's the last week I get to talk about Bear Woods, of course I am going to continue over-mentioning Bear Woods). The Trojans do operate out of a Bear Woods-less 4-3 base, but they play out of nickle packages quite often to try to compensate for their lack of size by showcasing their abundance of speed. However, Kendall Hunter coming off one of the better weeks a Running Back has had in recent memory should force the Trojans to stay more true to the 4-3 principles if they are to have enough personnel at the line to try to stop the run.
With the massive size advantage in Oklahoma State's favor on the line, run blocking should be no problem. The challenge for the Cowboy O-line will be containing a very effective Trojan pass rush. DE's Mario Addison and Jonathan Massaquoi are speedy rush ends who can get around the outside. Against Bowling Green these two were in the backfield frequently recording 2 sacks and 3 TFL. Containing this rush will be a good test for the still-new Cowboys offensive line.
The weight of truly containing the Oklahoma State offense will fall on the shoulders of the secondary. As mentioned above this defense will be forced to keep at least 7 in the box in order to try to contain Mr. Hunter, which will force the DB's to matchup with the Cowboys WR's. The problem here for Troy is that their tallest DB is 5'9" which will create a big mismatch for the tall and athletic Justin Blackmon and Tracy Moore. Though height is not everything, this inexperienced Troy secondary (all are first year starters) typically likes to compensate for it's coverage mismatches by dropping LB's and playing a lot of zone to take away the passing lanes. This may not be possible this week as the LB's will not be able to cheat.
Assuming the dominant ground and air attack we saw last week at BPS was not a one week fluke, the Oklahoma State offense should be able to move the ball at will against the Trojans. Larry Blakeney is known for pulling talent out of the most unlikely of places and being competitive with completely overmatched teams (as we learned in 2007), but with 9 new starters on the defensive side there is just too much inexperience here to compensate for the talent mismatch. If there were more returning starters, or if this game were in November, I would be more concerned, but as it stands I think the Cowboys should be able to easily score 40+.
More Cowboys - Trojans stuff from Cowboys Ride For Free
- A Q&A with Troy beat writer Drew Champlin
- Troy Trojans Preview from the summer: Part 1 | Part 2
- Reader AUKingOState put together a couple of nice looks at how the personnel of the two teams compare.
Offensive Comparison | Defensive Comparison
- We also did a podcast where we dedicated most of the time to discussing Troy.
Make sure to meet back here on gameday to participate in the live thread.