HC Neal Brown is a very good coach and was formerly the OC at Texas Tech and Kentucky. It won’t be long until he starts to get courted by bigger programs. In his first year they went 4-8 (2015). In 2016 they were trailing Clemson (AT) Clemson 13-10 going into the 4th quarter but lost by 6 and the stats were nearly identical. They finished the year at 10-3. Last year they lost at home to Boise St but went into Death Valley at night and beat LSU and finished 2017 with an 11-2 record. Offense Troy runs a no huddle, pro-set spread, mostly from the gun and uses a lot of pre-snap motion but isn’t a team that normally lights up the scoreboard. Their approach is methodical and they will slow it down to give their defense a rest or when they feel they’re taking control or losing control of a game. Troy’s QB (K. Barker) is a first year starter and is serviceable and will sit in the gun or roll out. Troy has many designed QB runs and although Barker isn’t fast, he’s a patient runner. Back-up QB Sawyer Smith appears to have the stronger arm. Note: Troy’s 4-year starter (B. Silvers) graduated last year. Troy lost their top 2 RBs from last year and typically relies on a mix of 3 RBs (sound familiar?). Two of their RBs are small and very quick (5’ 7” and 5’ 9”) and can get to the edge in a hurry. They like to run motion sweeps and also try to get the ball in the flat or on wheel routes. WR is a huge part of this offense and Troy returns their top two WRs from last year’s team. They have a lot of depth and will spread the balls to 5 or 6 WRs. OL returns 4 starters but have some issues against quicker and more agile defenders. They try to block their space and miss assignments – especially in double teams. (Keep that in mind.) On Defense Troy runs a 3-4; utilize a lot of speed; disguise their packages well to create mismatches and like to bring the house. Sometimes they don’t disguise their packages at all and will regularly line up 5 to 7 guys on the LOS and will rush them all or drop 3 into coverage and their side-line to side-line speed is solid. Troy likes to lean on its defense and similar to the offense, they lost its best defensive player on defense (LB – S. Lebbie) and a couple of others but return a solid group that includes 3 or 4 JUCO inserts from the last recruiting cycle. Turnovers… Turnovers were huge for Troy against Boise St and FAMU and the games played out accordingly. Nebraska lost the turnover battle against Colorado and well… you get the point. What to watch? On offense: -- Nebraska needs to establish the run and in order to do that they will need to pass. Frost & Co need to keep their defense guessing and go faster. -- Said it before and I will say it again… Bunch is solid and can run this offense effectively and with the right protection, he can do a good enough job to keep Martinez on the sidelines so he can get healthy. Bunch’s 3rd down pass to Spielman was outstanding – threw it in a spot which took away the defender. Too bad Spielman dropped that pass. -- Nebraska needs to counter Troy’s speed on defense so I expect to see the playbook opened up a little more. Also, expect to see the offense move quicker between snaps. -- RBs… does Bell have a 5th gear… how about a 4th? Curious to see if Miles Jones gets into the game and although people like to ‘ooh and ahh’ about Washington’s spin moves – I cringe because he could get lit up if he isn’t careful. -- Troy likes the Cover 2 or 3 – depends on how you want to slice that apple and ultimately will load the box to bring the house. Stoll and Rafdal could have a very good day; the quick hitters to the TEs should be there all day. If Troy corrects its scheme to account for the TEs, the running game should take off. See how that works? -- Watching Nebraska’s OL… Troy’s front 7 are a salty group and our QB will need the protection. -- Close your eyes… any Nebraska skill player with the ball vs a couple of Troy’s DBs. They drop their head (like they’re looking at their gut) and flail their arms like an airplane. They will get hurt and it won’t be pretty. On Defense: -- Pay attention to Troy’s LG and let’s see what Nebraska’s DL can do. I have a sneaking suspicion it will go in Nebraska’s favor. -- Troy’s QB: if he gets heavy pressure he doesn’t throw a good ball. Quite frankly, he doesn’t throw a great ball with no pressure. I expect we will see their back-up QB. -- The DL needs to NOT get sucked in on QB RPO counter. Troy’s QB isn’t fast but he is patient and will find space. Once again, backside contain will be huge. (Keep in mind that Colorado QB was/is much better.) -- Nebraska’s OLBs and safeties need to be aware of the counter, sweeps and the misdirection that Troy likes to use. Watch for Troy’s jailbreaks and RBs coming out of the back for screens and wheel routes – those guys are fast. -- Nebraska secondary needs to tighten up its discipline. Last week they got lost and lazy on a few of plays. L. Jackson needs to remember when he has quarter or 1/3 outside coverage; turning inside isn’t his responsibility. Left a couple of WRs wide open on the boundary. Troy’s WRs are talented and fast enough that they will make them pay. -- If Nebraska’s front 7 does their job, the secondary will (should) get 1 or 2 INTs. -- Saw some flaws in Nebraska’s tackling… they need to tighten it up. Simple form tackles would have done the job; coming in with the idea they’re simply going to drop a guy by hitting him and not wrapping up isn’t going to work. Final thoughts... This isn’t the same Troy team as last year. They lost some big time players on both sides of the ball from last year's team and seem like a team searching for an identity – definitely not the same energy and are lacking some confidence. Nebraska needs to... #1) Execute in all phases of the game. #2) Win the turnover battle. #3) Take control early and don't let Troy hang around. They’re scrappy and these big environments don’t scare them.