Welcome to this week’s edition of Behind Enemy Lines. Troy beat writer Drew Champlin of the Dothan Eagle was kind enough to answer some questions heading into tomorrow’s matchup between Oklahoma State and Troy.
What was the most impressive thing about Troy’s late win over Bowling Green?
The fact that they overcame early adversity and came from behind – especially with a redshirt freshman quarterback making his debut. Also, the fact that the defense didn’t allow a touchdown in the last three quarters. Troy had to replace 9 starters this year, and lost a starting safety for the year (ankle injury) two days before the opener.
Tell us more about Jerrel Jernigan, what makes him special?
He’s just fast and electric with the ball. He’s one of those guys that could take it to the house any time he touched it. Auburn didn’t want him because he’s only 5-foot-9, but he’d be the best receiver on their roster and he’d be in the playing rotation – and probably starting – for any team in the country.
Who is the guy to keep an eye on when Troy’s defense takes the field?
Cornerback Bryan Willis (#26) and linebacker Daniel Sheffield (#39) are the only two returning starters, but I’d list defensive end Mario Addison (#7), who has been in the shadows of two guys in the NFL right now over the past two seasons. He’s a senior that knows the game and can really run. He had 2 sacks (2.5 tackles for loss) and a forced fumble against Bowling Green. He’ll have to get to the QB Saturday for Troy to have a chance.
Are there a couple of freshmen to keep an eye on?
Troy starts one freshman at cornerback, Chris Pickett (#27), and he’s a true freshman, though they do rotate at that spot. He’s athletic and physical for his age. Of course, it doesn’t say much about your returners when a guy who just got there this summer from high school beats you out, but maybe he is that good. He’ll get his first shot on the big stage Saturday. Also, Corey Robinson (#6) is the starting quarterback and he’s a redshirt freshman. But you know about him by now.
Strengths on the offense? On defense?
The offense is filled with playmakers at running back and wide receiver. Shawn Southward (#20) is the top back and TeBiarus Gill (#10) is a physical receiver that will get his catches and yards. Three OL starters return. Defensively, the strength is the speed. The two defensive ends are pretty fast and the rest of the defense can run as well.
Concerns on offense? Defense?
Concerns on offense are the quarterback’s youth and the fact he hasn’t ever played in front of 60,000-plus fans that hate his guts, and OL depth. Defensively, it’s mostly the inexperience and the lack of size. Coaches feel like the players they have are good, and they probably will be, but they’re probably going to be much better in Game 9 than in Game 2.
Have the overall expectations for this team increased with last week’s win? Or are they about the same?
I’d say they are about the same. All fans are predicting a win, but realistically they don’t want to see what happened two years ago in Stillwater. But a conference championship is probably expected, and with good reason.
Troy takes it to the late third/early fourth but OSU pulls away. Troy scores a touchdown in the final 15 seconds to cover the spread, whatever it may be. I think Troy can move the ball, but I’m not sure they can stop them. I’m anticipating plenty of offense.