Troy Hosts Preseason Sun Belt Favorite FIU Saturday

By: Matt Harris Email
By: Matt Harris Email

*From Troy Media Relations*

TROY, Ala. – Veterans Memorial Stadium has seen a cavalcade of quality teams on its turf this season and this Saturday will be no different as Troy plays host to preseason Sun Belt Conference favorite FIU at 12 p.m. in a game televised by the Sun Belt Network (CSS / Cox Sports).

The Trojans previous three opponents at home this season – Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi State and Western Kentucky – have a combined 15-3 record so far this season.

Troy (3-3, 2-2 Sun Belt) has reached the midway point of its season and the Trojans sit at a crossroads with an even overall and Sun Belt record. With six games remaining on the docket, the Trojans are three wins away from bowl eligibility and what could be their Sun Belt leading sixth bowl appearance since 2004.

The 2012 season hasn't been as kind to FIU (1-6, 0-3). The Panthers won a share of the Sun Belt title with Troy in 2010 and appeared in the school's second bowl game last season; however, five straight losses have put Mario Cristobal's club one setback away being eliminated from bowl contention.

The status of Troy starting quarterback Corey Robinson is still up in the air heading into Saturday's game after he suffered a concussion against Western Kentucky last Thursday night. Junior Deon Anthony played the entire second half under center for the Trojans and is ready to full in if needed. On the season, Anthony has completed 20-of-30 pass attempts for 281 yards and a pair of touchdowns; he has also rushed 32 times for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Whoever is at quarterback for the Trojans will have a pair of big-play receivers in Chip Reeves and Eric Thomas to throw to. Reeves leads the Sun Belt with six catches of 30 or more yards and with four catches that have topped the 40-yard mark. Thomas and Anthony hooked up against the Hilltoppers for a 47-yard touchdown that was featured as SportCenter's number seven play of the night.

The Troy offense also has the Sun Belt's third leading rusher in Shawn Southward at its disposal. The senior has rushed for 573 yards and five touchdowns this season and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Troy is just 77 yards shy of last year's season total on the ground, while Southward has already eclipsed his total from 2011.

Defensively, the Trojans have increased their aggressiveness and it has turned into positive results. Troy forced five Western Kentucky fumbles (recovered two) last week one game after forcing four South Alabama turnovers.

Tony Davis was largest cog in the Hilltoppers offensive plans last week as the senior defensive end had a pair of sacks, both of which forced a fumble. Safety Brynden Trawick leads the group with 46 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss through the first six games, while linebacker Kanorris Davis has 41 stops, three behind the line and a fumble recovery.

FIU welcomed back starting quarterback Jake Medlock last week against Middle Tennessee after he missed two and a half games with a foot injury. Medlock has completed 93-of-157 passes for 1,207 yards and six touchdowns without an interception this year.

Also back for the Panthers last week was running back Kedrick Rhodes after he missed two of the previous three games. However, Rhodes appeared to reinjure himself against the Blue Raiders and his status for Saturday is up in the air.

The strength of the FIU team coming into the season was supposed to be its defense, but that unit has struggled. The Panthers are allowing 432.9 yards and 37.3 points per game this season and the offense has done a pretty good job trying to keep up with 386.9 yards and 25.4 points per game.

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