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Another Day at the Office for Troy

By Jim Johnson
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As impressive as Troy’s win at Nebraska appears, and legitimately is, it should not have been a surprise.

As impressive as Troy’s win at Nebraska appears, and legitimately is, it should not have been a surprise.

Ahead of the contest, there were reasons to suspect that this would not be as favorable for the Trojans as it previously appeared. Neal Brown’s squad got blasted by Boise State in week one and then played an FCS team in week two, so there wasn’t much to take away from that showing. Meanwhile, although Nebraska did fall to Colorado in their opener, they actually had a 93% win expectancy, but were bitten by an emphatic loss in the turnover battle.

Still, the loss to Boise, no matter the final score, was to arguably one of the best teams in college football. After week two, the Broncos ranked 5th overall in S&P+. That game displayed that Troy is not yet among the cream of the game’s crop, but little else.

And even though Nebraska turned the ball over a ton against Colorado, sometimes that’s not just luck. Sometimes, it’s systemic. If the today was indication, the latter might be the case.

In fact, the Cornhuskers were probably pretty lucky as far as turnovers. Beyond their two interceptions, they put the ball on the ground a total of four times, but only one of those fumbles resulted in a change of possession.

Ultimately, in spite of what baseless preconceived notions about either team may suggest, Troy was better than Nebraska last year, projected to be better than Nebraska going into this season, and were better than Nebraska today.

Tron Folsom continues to confirm that he is the best linebacker in the Sun Belt. In week two, he recorded five tackles, 1.5 for loss, and two interceptions, one of which was a pick-six, in a 59-7 drubbing of FAMU. He followed that up with a 14 tackle, one sack, one pass breakup outing in Memorial Stadium. From a versatility standpoint, Folsom is the chess piece that every defensive coordinator needs to counteract modern offenses, especially like what Scott Frost runs. Even with sideline-to-sideline athleticism and true pass rush talent, his best attribute may be his contributions in coverage. He is the total package and all of it was on display.

In the secondary, there was a strong leadership core in need of replacing after some significant departures from the 2017 squad. Unsurprisingly, Marcus Jones is emerging as one of those guys, both as a voice in the locker room and on the practice field, as well as a performer on game days. Even as an underclassmen, his presence is becoming increasingly invaluable. He, too, had a strong showing, tallying a pair of pass breakups to go with six tackles.

Offensively, there are some issues to iron out, but it shouldn’t be a problem. All of the pieces are there. It’s never easy replacing long time staples like Brandon Silvers and Jordan Chunn, but as the team continues to jell, it will do so behind an absolutely dominant offensive line, especially in the run game, which, speaking of, may have a potential breakout star in the backfield -- B.J. Smith.

Troy also carried on what is becoming a tradition of monster special teams plays, with Cedarius Rookard taking back a punt 58 yards to the house in the second quarter.

This was not like the LSU game last year. This was not an upset. Troy is better than Nebraska and the better team won. At 2-1 through three weeks, Troy is exactly where they’re supposed to be. All of their goals are still intact. As conference play starts next week, at ULM, it’s on to the next one for the Trojans.

Today was just another day at the office for Neal Brown and his team.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP