FACTS & STATS: Site: Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000) — Troy, Alabama.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: NMSU 1-2, Troy 0-2. Away Record: NMSU 1-2,
Troy 0-3. Neutral Record: NMSU 0-0, Troy 0-0. Conference Record: NMSU 0-2,
Troy 0-1. Series Record: New Mexico State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The retirement tour for long-time head coach Larry Blakeney will
begin on Saturday, as the Troy Trojans seek their first win of the season
against the New Mexico State Aggies in a Sun Belt conference battle at
Veterans Memorial Stadium.
On Sunday night, it was announced that Blakeney will retire following this
season, his 24th as the head coach at Troy. Blakeney oversaw the program’s
entrance to the FBS level, and has led the Trojans to five bowl games.
However, this season has not been one of his best, with Troy winless in five
games, although they were idle last weekend.
New Mexico State has been a bit better, with a record of 2-4 overall. However,
the Aggies are riding a four-game losing streak following setbacks against
Texas-El Paso (42-24), New Mexico (38-35), LSU (63-7) and Georgia Southern
In the only previous meeting between these two teams, which are facing off as
Sun Belt foes for the first time, the Aggies claimed a 22-18 victory back in
In comparison to the rest of the Sun Belt, the Aggies are an average offensive
team, ranking fifth in the league in both total offense (421 ypg) and scoring
Tyler Rogers had a very productive game in terms of yardage last week against
Georgia Southern, throwing for 329 yards on 34-of-48 passing. However, as has
been his issue this season, Rogers also made plenty of mistakes, throwing
three interceptions in the loss. Rogers has accumulated 1,471 passing yards
and nine touchdowns on 61.2 percent completions, but he has also been picked
off more than any other quarterback in the Sun Belt.
Rogers may be interception prone, but he is also lucky enough to throw to
Teldrick Morgan, who has been one of the best receivers in the league. Morgan
has amassed 608 yards and four touchdowns on 46 receptions, leading the league
in both catches and yards. He had 100 yards on 10 grabs against Georgia
Southern. Joseph Matthews (23 receptions, 246 yards, three TDs) is the next-
Larry Rose (290 yards, two TDs), Brandon Betancourt (266 yards, two TDs) and
Xavier Hall (218 yards, four TDs) give the Aggies plenty of depth in the
backfield. Betancourt rushed for 65 yards and two scores against Georgia
While the offense has had its ups and downs, the Aggies defense has failed
time and time again. They are allowing 446 yards and 36.7 points per game,
while opposing teams have scored touchdowns on an alarming 81 percent of their
trips to the red zone.
Rodney Butler (68 tackles) and Derek Ibekwe (60 tackles) have had plenty of
chances to bring down opposing ball-carriers, ranking second and fourth in the
Sun Belt conference in tackles, respectively.
Troy is a team that has plenty of problems on offense this season, so the fact
that starting quarterback Brandon Silvers is listed as questionable for this
week’s game with a concussion is terrible news. The Trojans are dead last in
the conference in scoring (16.4 ppg) and total offense (330.4 ypg).
Silvers has completed 67 percent of his passes, but for only 779 yards and
four touchdowns. Without him the job will shift to Dontreal Pruitt, who has
appeared in five games this season. In his limited time under center, Pruitt
has completed 32-of-57 passes for 374 yards and an interception. It’s a small
sample size, but clearly Pruitt has to improve and do so quickly.
Pruitt doesn’t have an extremely impressive receiving corps to work with.
Chandler Worthy (20 receptions, 250 yards, two TDs) is the team leader in
receptions and yards and is coming off a 66-yard, two-score effort against
ULM. Bryan Holmes (15 receptions, 194 yards, TD) is the next best option.
In the backfield, Jordan Chunn and Brandon Burks get the bulk of the work.
Chunn has rushed for 130 yards and two scores, and Burks has 114 yards on 38
attempts. Burks (15 receptions, 133 yards, TD) is also an important piece in
the passing attack.
Troy’s offensive shortcomings have come with weak play on defense as well. The
Trojans rank last in the Sun Belt in scoring defense (41.6 ppg) and 10th in
total defense (467.8 ypg). It is difficult to limit total yards when teams are
converting on nearly 50 percent of their third-down opportunities. Troy has
also failed to force turnovers, coming up with only five in as many games.
Montres Kitchens (36 tackles, INT) and Femi Odaibo (three INTs) have done
their best to capitalize on bad plays from the opposition, with Odaibo tied
for the Sun Belt lead in interceptions.
The Trojans may be playing with a bit more emotion this weekend after hearing
the news about their head coach. However, emotion alone cannot make up for the
weaknesses they have on both sides of the ball, especially without their
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico State 30, Troy 24