KEYS FOR VICTORY
1. Disrupt Robinson’s rhythm
Troy senior quarterback Corey Robinson is dangerously accurate. Robinson picked apart the Bulldogs last year, completing 32 of 45 passing for 343 yards. He also set the NCAA record in the season opener against UAB connecting on 93.8 percent (30 of 32) of his throws.
Robinson knows the Trojans’ offense inside and out and makes smart, quick decisions. If he is given enough time, he will find open receivers and make a long night for Mississippi State’s young secondary.
2. Establish line of scrimmage
The Bulldogs need to make their presence felt on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. MSU should have the advantage against a Sun Belt opponent and need to use their physicality to wear down Troy at the point of attack.
The Trojans will rely on quick bubble screens to counteract the mismatch on the line of scrimmage so it will take a synchronized effort by the entire defense to combat Robinson & Co.
3. No letdowns
Last week’s loss is over with and there is nothing State can do to change it. As devastating as it can be to lose a game in the final 10 seconds, the Bulldogs have to put it in the past and focus all its energy on winning against Troy.
With a daunting schedule still ahead, the Bulldogs need to pick up every win they can to keep their bowl streak alive for a fourth consecutive year.
WHAT TO WATCH
When MSU has the ball
This could vary depending on whether or not Tyler Russell is able to play or Dak Prescott makes his third straight start at quarterback. If Russell plays the Bulldogs will have to limit the hits they allow on the senior signal caller. If it is Prescott’s show then protection is still vital to avoid being down to a true freshman taking the snaps.
Expect MSU to get its quintet of running backs more involved after a 14-carry, 38 yard performance against Auburn last weekend. LaDarius Perkins is back at 100 percent after an ankle injury but it could be the type of game where a power back like Ashton Shumpert could be effective.
When Troy has the ball
The Trojans embarrassed State last season, rolling up 573 yards of offense – spelling the beginning of the end for former defensive coordinator Chris Wilson. New coordinator Geoff Collins was on the Bulldogs’ staff a year ago and will now be charged with slowing down the Trojans’ offense.
Troy enters the game averaging 547.3 yards and scoring 44.7 points per game. So far, the Trojans have been fairly balanced passing for 367.7 and adding 179.7 on the ground meaning State will have to respect both aspects of Troy’s offense.
Corey Robinson vs. MSU’s secondary
Troy quarterback Corey Robinson is deadly accurate and likes to utilize a lot of quick passes such as bubble screens. The Trojans found success in that area in 2012 against Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs had 18 missed tackles last week against Auburn, most of which came in the secondary on bubble screens. MSU will have to shore up its open-field tackling or it could be another long day for the defense.