This is the teams’ first meeting
Strength: Depth at receiver and RB
Weakness: Inexperience at QB and offensive line
Strengths: Defense, QB, RB
Weakness: Inconsistency at kicker
Coastal Carolina’s offensive line vs. Troy’s defensive line: Troy has the best defense in the Sun Belt Conference and one of the best defenses in the country, and it is led by a talented defensive line. The Trojans held LSU without a third down conversion in their 24-21 road upset on Sept. 30. With a couple injuries to upperclassmen, the Chanticleers are starting the youngest and least experienced offensive line in FBS with true freshmen Jack Franklin and Brock Hoffman, redshirt freshmen Steven Bedosky and Trey Carter, and redshirt sophomore Ethan Howard. The line performed well against Arkansas’ three-man front. Will it be able to protect starting quarterback Kilton Anderson and open holes for running backs Osharmar Abercrombie, Marcus Outlow and Alex James against Troy’s fierce four-man line?
Players to watch
Junior quarterback Kilton Anderson: He threw two touchdowns in the second half last week at Arkansas in relief of Tyler Keane, and is 16 of 44 for 306 yards and three TDs without an interception this season.
Senior receiver Chris Jones: He’s averaging 23.2 yards per catch this season and is on pace to break his own CCU record of 18.3 yards per catch in 2015.
Senior linebacker Shane Johnson: The inside linebacker was credited with 19 tackles against Texas State two weeks ago to come within a tackle of the CCU single-game record, and added seven tackles at Arkansas last week. He leads CCU with 66 tackles this season.
Senior quarterback Brandon Silvers: He has completed 196 of 311 passes (63 percent) of his passes this season for 2,153 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. He has 60 TDs and 27 interceptions in his Troy career.
Senior running back Jordan Chunn: Despite missing two games this season, Chunn has gained 631 yards on 119 carries for a 5.3-yard average with eight touchdowns. He’s within 10 carries and one touchdown of setting new school career rushing records.
Junior cornerback Blace Brown: He had six interceptions in 2016 to rank seventh nationally and has added two this season with against Boise State that he returned for a TD and one vs. LSU with 5 seconds remaining to seal a win.
He said it
“I think Troy is all around on offense, defense and special teams the best team we’ve seen this year. They do a really good job on offense and their defense is leading the conference. It will be a huge challenge for us.” – CCU interim head coach Jamey Chadwell
“They’re a group that I’ve got a lot of respect for. They’ve got a bunch of guys on that team that have won a lot of football games. I always respect people that won, and they won at a big-time level at the FCS level. I know both the coordinators well and have a lot of respect for them and what they do on both sides of the ball. … I knew they were going to be a difficult opponent and that was before they got the confidence of going out and playing Arkansas so well.” – Troy head coach Neal Brown
“They played great last week. I was really pulling hard for them. It would have been a great win for our league.” – Brown
Will Coastal be able to find consistency in its play from week to week?
In their past four games, the Chants lost by 34 to Arkansas State on Oct. 14; led Appalachian State, one of the powers of the Sun Belt Conference, in the third quarter on the road before losing by eight; lost by 20 at home to a Texas State team that was 1-6; and had SEC mainstay Arkansas on the ropes with a 13-point fourth-quarter lead last week before losing by one.
“Last week we played pretty well there for a long part of the football game and hopefully that same type of team will show up,” Chadwell said. “That’s been our Achilles heel, we’ve been up and down as far as the effort and intensity we play with. If the same team will show up as far as the effort and our competitive spirit, then we’re looking forward to a really good football game versus a good team this week.”
Troy is mature in the key skill positions of quarterback and running back. Senior running back Jordan Chunn (6-1, 235 pounds) has played in 46 games, missing two to injury this season, and has 644 carries for 2,977 yards and 45 rushing touchdowns in his career, and he’s tied with Danny Grant for the Troy record for most TDs in a career.
Senior QB Brandon Silvers (6-3, 220) has started 44 of a possible 46 games since enrolling at Troy, missing just two due to injury, and has completed 882 of 1,372 attempts for 9,547 yards, 60 TDs and 27 interceptions.
“I think his stats aren’t as good [this season]. I don’t know if we’ve played as good around him, but I think he’s probably been more consistent and played at even a higher level this year than he did last year,” Troy coach Neal Brown said. “He’s grown and matured each year, he has a great understanding of what we’re doing, so I think without a doubt it’s a huge benefit.”
Chadwell believes Coastal needs to control the ball and sustain drives in order to pull off the upset.
“We have to take care of the ball and try to control it a little bit, try to wear them down some,” Chadwell said. “What people have not been able to do on them is sustain any type of drives. … Then when we have a chance to make a big play we have to make it, we can’t miss it, because they don’t give you many of those.”
Coastal is allowing an average of 38 points per game while Troy hasn’t allowed more than 24 points to any opponent.
Troy’s defensive statistics are impressive. The Trojans have allowed the fewest points in the second quarter in the country at 1.67 per game. They rank fourth in the country in first-half points allowed at 6.56. They are averaging 2.66 sacks and 7.6 tackles for loss per game. They are first nationally in red zone defense allowing a score on just 60.7 percent of drives inside the 20.
▪ Troy coach Neal Brown is the fifth youngest coach at the FBS level at 37 years and eight months, and has a 21-13 record in his third year overseeing the Trojans.
▪ Since 2004, when Troy joined the Sun Belt Conference, the Trojans have the most conference wins with a record of 65-38 within the conference, which is two wins better than Arkansas State (63-32).
▪ Troy has recorded at least one negative-yardage play on 61.2 percent of opponent drives this season.
▪ Troy went through two kickers who were a combined 4 for 10 on field goal attempts before redshirt freshman Tyler Sumpter, the team’s third kicker this year, made four straight in the past three games.
▪ CCU receivers Chris Jones and Malcolm Williams are each averaging more than 18.5 yards per catch this season, with Jones at 23.2 and Williams at 18.6.
Troy 27, Coastal Carolina 17: One of the top defenses in the country will help Troy grind out a road victory.
Who: Troy (7-2, 4-1 Sun Belt) at Coastal Carolina (1-8, 0-5 Sun Belt)
When: 4:30 p.m.
Where: Brooks Stadium, Conway
Occassion: CCU Athletics Hall of Fame, Military Appreciation
TV: Live online on ESPN3
Live stats: Through www.goccusports.com GameTracker
Radio: WRNN 99.5-FM