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2017 Battle For The Belt – South Alabama Jaguars (1-4) @ Troy Trojans (4-1)

The 6th annual Battle for the Belt will be underway this Wednesday with a red-hot Troy Trojans (4-1) team facing off against in-state Sun Belt Rivals in the South Alabama Jaguars (1-4). Troy is coming off an upset of a lifetime last September 30th at #25 LSU with a 24-21 victory. While the Jaguars are still facing troubles on both sides of the ball, which was evident in their 34-16 loss at Louisiana Tech. ESPN’s FPI (football power index) gives the Trojans an 86.1% chance to win. The line for the game is a 17 point difference in the Troy Trojan’s favor.

Three of the last four match-ups between South Alabama and Troy have been been decided by a touchdown or less. Last year, the Trojans beat the Jaguars in Mobile thanks to Trojans Quarterback Brandon Silvers passing for 395 yards and a touchdown as well as RB Jordan Chunn running for 143 yards and two touchdowns. The year before, the South Alabama Jaguars came out of the match-up at Troy with a 24-18 victory.

Being a rivalry, especially an in-state rivalry and conference game, the Battle for the Belt can shed any factor of previous success or failure. The Jaguars (1-4) are looking to get back into the winning column with a win over the Trojans (4-1), who are trying to prove that their victory over the #25 LSU Tigers wasn’t a fluke. This game will be played through two very similar offenses through power-run schemes, screens, and occasional deep passing. This game might come to a potential tight 4th quarter battle as both teams struggled to keep their opponents in check in the 4th quarter.

Image result for battle of the belt Troy Trojans vs South Alabama Jaguars

Can the Jaguars defense be able to stop the diverse and talented Troy Trojans offense?

This year, both Silvers and Chunn are back for Troy compiling a great season offensively by being ranked 24th in the nation in rushing yards per game (108.8) and 55th in passing yards per game (250). For the Jaguars, they rank 91st in the nation in points allowed per game (30.8) and 119th in passing yards allowed per game (292.2). Even though South Alabama has played their toughest opponents in their first five games, they are not making much of a convincing statement to be able to stop the efficiency passing of Brandon Silvers. The Trojans have 5 eligible Receivers who have caught 14 receptions or more so far this year, which indicates that Silvers can spread the ball all throughout the field.

Image result for battle of the belt Troy Trojans vs South Alabama JaguarsThe loss of the CB Jalen Thompson’s leadership and star-playmaking ability has been a burden for the Jaguars defense since he was declared academically ineligible for the year. Other players throughout the depth chart have stepped up including DT Tyree Turner, who has accounted for 17 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks so far this season. Former Louisville Cardinals DE Finese Middleton has been a big contributor to the Jaguars defense as well by creating consistent pressure against opposing offenses as he has accounted for 17 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

Troy is easily one of the most of the talented offenses that South Alabama has played all season in terms of diverse playcalling. South has played the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Ole Miss Rebels, who both have a high-power passing game but also don’t create much of a running game as well. Not only do the Trojans establish a great running game under RB Jordan Chunn but they will have a great passing game through multiple stages of passing schemes. Stopping this Trojans offense will be tough because it means that South Alabama will have to be alert at all times through pre-play reads and paying attention to certain key formations. The Trojans cannot assume that the Jaguars will make mistakes on reads because they will let their guards down. Jaguars S Jeremy Reaves is one of the most talented defensive players in the Sun Belt by accounting for 37 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 6 pass deflections.


Troy Trojans defense have a tough task even with a change at Quarterback for South

Jaguars QB Dallas Davis is a game-time decision for South Alabama with a shoulder injury after missing the last game against Louisiana Tech. The Jaguars may actually have a reliable chance with the arm of Cole Garvin than the game-management of Davis. The Trojans are ranked 77th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (231 yards), mostly because their run defense is so good but also because of they are not very well established in deep coverages. The Trojans made a high amount of plays in LSU’s backfield because the Tigers tried to conserve their offensive playcalling against Troy. Garvin has recovered from his injury that he suffered during the game against Oklahoma State in the 2nd week of the season. Last week, Garvin passed for 23 yards and a touchdown but also threw two interceptions and accounted for a completion percentage of 46.7%. If the Jaguars offense Image result for battle of the belt Troy Trojans vs South Alabama Jaguarswant to have any chance to score consistently on Troy or even continue drives, he will need to be more efficient on passing the ball.

A big bright side for Troy’s defense is that they are ranked tied for 53rd in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (181.6 yards). Their first opponent in the Boise State Broncos did not run the ball efficiently through 44 attempts for 147 rushing yards. This was done through the interior penetration from the Trojans Defensive Tackles and blitzing Linebackers. In the matchup against LSU, the Tigers did not play their star Running Back in Derrius Guice. The Trojans would’ve had more trouble against the elusive agility of Guice if he would’ve played against Troy.

This is a match-up where the Trojans defense will be tested all throughout the game against the Jaguar’s run-first philosophy. For South Alabama, if their Offensive Line can block efficiently against the Trojans tough interior Defensive Line then they can open up efficient running room for Jaguars RB Xavier Johnson. The Senior Jaguar has rushed for 345 yards on 57 carries (an average of 6.1 yards per rush) and 4 touchdowns.

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