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Troy Trojans Offensive Preview

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The Tigers face off against the the third-best offense left on the schedule. Can the Tiger defense maintain their run of dominance or will the Trojans pull a Middle Tennessee?

NCAA Football: Dollar General Bowl-Buffalo vs Troy John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not being hyperbolic or overstating things when I say this: the Troy offense will be the best offense the Tigers have seen so far this season and will (probably) be the best offense on the schedule until Georgia. In fact, Troy currently ranks 32nd, which is only 10 spots lower than Florida at 22nd. Whatever your opinions on Missouri and Troy as individual programs, this will be an excellent test of the elite Tiger defense and a good measuring stick to see if this version of the Odom/Walters partnership has produced a truly dominant product.

NCAA Football: Boise State at Troy
Kaleb Barker
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

Kaleb Barker - SR: 108-166 (65.1%)/1,367 yards/13 TDs/2 INTs/4.6% sack rate/7.6 ypa

Gunnar Watson - FR: 2-2 (100%)/1 yard/0.5 ypa

The stat: passing downs

Troy isn’t necessarily dominant through the air, but Kaleb Barker is an experienced senior that is the engine of the Troy attack; the senior’s yards per attempt is good and has a 65% completion rate, but it relies more on explosive gains rather than efficiency. However, during passing downs, the Trojans’ personality skyrockets to the extremes: 15th in success rate, FIFTH in explosiveness, 102nd in efficiency, 92nd in sack rate. A big play happens on Trojan passing downs, essentially, and it’s either an explosive play or a huge loss. It is pertinent that Missouri makes sure it’s more of the latter than the former.

Running Back

D.K. Billingsley - SO: 63 rushes/330 yards/4 TDs/5.2 ypc/4.73 HLT/47.6% OPP/44.4% success

Trevon Woolfork - FR: 21 rushes/100 yards/0 TDs/4.8 ypc/2.39 HLT/57.1% OPP/47.6% success

The stat: those damn explosive plays

On standard downs, the Troy offense is much more comfortable, keeping opponents guessing and finding lots of success with decent efficiency on both the run and the pass. The run, in particular, is its most efficient on standard downs and has excellent explosiveness and does a great job of preventing negative plays. This will be a good test of Bash Brothers, Cale Garrett and Nick Bolton; if they’re not cleaning up anything missed by the line, the Trojan backs have a tendency of taking it a long way.

Wide Receivers

Reggie Todd - JR: 24 targets/11 catches (45.8%)/239 yards/1 TD/21.7 ypc/10 ypt

Luke Whittemore - SO: 24 targets/17 catches (70.8%)/204 yards/1 TD/12 ypc/8.5 ypt

Kaylon Geiger - JR: 30 targets/26 catches (86.7%)/388 yards/2 TDs/14.9 ypc/12.9 ypt

Tight End

Sam Letton - JR: 6 targets/2 catches (33.3%)/21 yards/10.5 ypc/3.5 ypt

A.J. Lewis - FR: 1 target/1 catch (100%)/8 yards/1 TD/8 ypc/8 ypt

The stat: disrupting the passing game

Between Barker and the top three receivers, if the ball is in the air it’s typically being caught by a Trojan receiver. Whittemore and Geiger, in particular, combine for an 80% catch rate. Missouri’s secondary has held their first four opponents to a 44% completion rate over 116 passes. We’ll see how disruptive Acy, Holmes, and Ware can be and hopefully keep the passing attack inefficient.

Offensive Line

Austin Stidham - SO

Kirk Kelley - SR

Dylan Bradshaw - JR

Tristan Crowder - SR

J.L. Gaston - SR

The stat: surviving standard downs, punishing pass downs

The Troy offensive line is heavy on experience on talent, with Stidham, Kelley, Crowder, and Gaston all earning All-Sun Belt honors last year. They are dominant on standard downs, ranking Top 25 in creating line yards for the backs, limiting run stuffs, and preventing sacks. That all changes on passing downs when they sink to 102nd in line yards and 92nd in passing downs. Troy is scary on passing downs, but the line - oddly enough - becomes a total liability in those situations. If the Tigers are capitalizing on this weakness, they’ll limit the Trojans’ biggest advantage over the Missouri defense.