Troy’s Neal Brown looks ahead to Georgia State

TROY, Ala. (troytrojans.com) – Here’s Trojans’ Head Football Coach Neal Brown’s Monday news conference ahead of Saturday’s Homecoming game vs. Georgia State.

Opening Statement…

“Thanks for being here. It was a productive bye week, especially after three long road trips in the first five games. We practiced three times last week and really took advantage of the off time. We gave the guys off for the weekend. They needed to refresh their bodies and their minds. They had a lot of academic work to catch up on. This is the middle of the semester where the work load really starts picking up. The coaches also got some time off which was much needed. We went recruiting on Thursday and Friday, and got some good work done there.

We are excited to get back home. We have Georgia State coming into town for Homecoming. They are a quality opponent and a very similar team to what they were last year. A group that struggled a little bit early, but have found their stride. I think you are going to see them kick it into high gear like they did last year in the middle of the season. They are well-coached. Trent Miles is the reigning Sun Belt Coach of the Year. I have a lot of respect for him and they do a really great job in all three phases. They played really well the last three games. They took Wisconsin at their place all the way down until late in the fourth quarter. They were 17-3 at Appalachian State against one of the top teams in our conference. And then winning with a huge second quarter at Texas State.

They beat us soundly last year. They wore us out. It was 31-21, but I never felt that the game was that close. It was 31-7 in the fourth quarter. I thought they beat us in all three phases. They moved the ball on us at will. Offensively, we never really got anything going. We were able to throw for some yards in the fourth quarter, but they really wore us out last year in that game.

Offensively, they are a spread football team. The quarterback Connor Manning is improving each game that they play. They are starting to get the running game going, I think that is why they are successful on offense. They have a running back Kyler Neal that really runs the ball hard. Their offensive line is almost all returning from last year. They do a good job. Nobody has really been able to get pressure on them all year. I think they have, if not the best receiver in our league in Robert Davis, then one of them. He had a big game last week against Texas State. He is special. He is a guy that runs really good routes. He sticks his foot in the ground and can make people miss. He is physical and is as good as the receivers we have played, even at Clemson. He is a guy that is going to make money for sure playing this game.

Defensively, they are a veteran group. I counted 10 guys that started against us last year that are back. Their stats are a little skewed because they played Air Force. Air Force ran the ball 70 plus times against them. They are a group that has played well. They really controlled the line of scrimmage against Wisconsin, and that is really saying something. Their front six are all 6-2 or better. They have guys that can really push. They are really well-coached up front on the defensive line. Their nose guard is a potential issue for us. They rotate two with Jalen Lawrence (97) and Julien Laurent (91) and they are both big physical guys that can give us some issues. Their linebacker Alonzo McGhee is a sound football player. He made a lot of plays against us last year. Hey also have the best corner duo in our league. They pressed us and challenged us last year on just about every snap and I expect them to do the same this year.

On special teams they are solid in all phases. They do a really good job with the kickoff return team. They commit a lot of starters to their special teams. If you look at really good football teams that is always the case.

I have a lot of respect for Georgia State and this is round two of playing back-to-back teams that got after us last year. We hope to have a big crowd in the house for Homecoming. We had a really good crowd against New Mexico State and I hope we can add to that. I know Auburn is off this week and Alabama is on the road, so hopefully we can get a lot of their fans to come over and check us out on Saturday at 2:30. Our guys are excited about getting back home.”

On progress made during the bye week…

“We have been a balanced team so far this year. Coming off the Idaho game we turned the ball over three times, which is uncharacteristic for us. So we worked on a lot of ball security last week. Really, just keeping sharp. The plays that we are doing right now as far as being five games into it, we will decorate them a bit, but we aren’t going to change our base schemes. The biggest part of the bye week is getting our guys refreshed. We were beat up at a few key positions, so we used that time to refresh our body and mind. We completely overhauled how we went about the bye week compared to last year. We did not compete well coming off of the bye weeks last year. We changed things up and will hopefully have a better recipe this time.”

On timing of bye week…

“There have been some physical football games without question. I think the travel has been a wear as much as anything. We were on a roll a little bit so you always hesitate to want a bye week when you are winning some game. It was important though for us to get our bodies back. I wasn’t fired up about how we practiced last week in our bye week. We didn’t go full tilt like we normally do. I think our kids are probably feeling themselves a little bit and we have to get back to reality and understand that we haven’t done anything yet. We are 4-1, 2-0 in the conference, but we have not achieved a single goal that we set out for. I think how we come to work this afternoon and moving through the week is going to tell us if we are going to be ready to go on Saturday. This group hasn’t had much success in the past and we have to be able to handle it better than we did last week.”

On Georgia State’s pass rushing…

“They are definitely a formidable pass rush. They have a lot of length up front. I am as worried about them batting balls down as I am about their pass rush. They were successful in batting several of our balls down last year. We always spend a lot of time of pass protection. They mix up their blitzes and they can bring several different blitzes out of the same look. Their edge defenders are good rushers too.”

On team buying into methods…

“I think anytime you are dealing with 18, 19 and 20 year olds, that is to be determined. They bought in the Idaho and Southern Miss weeks, but each week is brand new. We are to be determined for this week. We brought them in and had an academic meeting yesterday and tried to set the tone for the week. The tone is we have to get better. This is going to be the best team we played in our conference so far, and by far the best defensive team we have played in our league so far. We have to be ready to answer the bell. That’s what separates pretenders form contenders. Pretenders have a lot of highs and lows and contenders are real solid each and every week.”

On bowl eligibility potential…

“I am worried about how this team can continue to get better. If we continue to get better we will win football games, if we don’t then we are running up against opponents that are as talented as we are. So I have not worried about the postseason a single bit. I think that we have a lot of room for improvement. We have played well in certain phases of the game, but we have not put a complete game together. I know we are getting ready to have our stiffest challenge this week and I have questions about how our kids are going to handle prosperity. We are going to coach them hard and get better.”

On the next 3 of 4 games being at home…

“That is a big advantage. The time is now for us. We have had two home games so far and our crowds have increased both times. This is a great opportunity for our players to play in front of what we think will be a rather large crowd on Saturday. It is up to our guys to make people want to keep coming back. They want to support teams that are doing well and there are a lot of entertainment options. We are in the entertainment business, and if our guys want to keep playing in front of larger and larger crowds then we have to continue doing our job and performing.”

On pressure from national attention…

“The message to our kids has to be consistent. We treat each week as a new week. Everything matters. How you handle yourself on the field, with your schoolwork, your treatment sessions and meals, all those things contribute to how you perform on Saturday. So if our guys will buy in to that process, we will continue to have success. If we don’t, then we are going to start showing that on the field.”

“In closing, as most of you know we lost a real close friend of our football team last week. Eric Mizell passed away suddenly last Tuesday morning. He was the leader of our “T Club” and a letterman. That is a huge loss to the Troy community and our football program. That is a loss that really saddened our bye week. Our thoughts are with his wife Tiffany and their kids. Hopefully we can get them involved in some of these home games coming up.”

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