(Over the next few weeks we’ll be giving you some good old fashioned Badgers opposition research…aka a look at the 2015 schedule after the 2014 season)
Hey, at least the Badgers aren’t playing an FCS opponent…so for all you that complain about the slate of home games, take solace in the fact that you aren’t going to see Austin Peay or Eastern Kentucky come in for a paycheck and a butt-kicking.
Still, this game isn’t going to be much prettier, as Troy hit near rock bottom for a program that has been near the top of the Sun Belt in the relatively recent past. Troy will come in with a new head coach with plenty of big atmosphere experience, as Neal Brown was offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and the University of Kentucky.
These games always have a way of surprising those of us covering the team, either by just how bad the butt kicking is or how head-scratching the Badgers’ performance is.
Let’s take a look at Troy and who they are heading towards spring football.
2014 Record: 3-9 (3-5 Sun Belt)
2014 Billingsley Ranking: 125th (out of 128)
2014 Team Stats:
2014 Crazy Stat: 4
Troy managed to throw just four interceptions last season, compared to 12 passing touchdowns. Not a bad ratio considering the mess that was the Trojans’ season and the fact that most of the passing was done by a redshirt freshman.
Key Losses: WR Chandler Worth; RG Tommy Stephens; DT Billy Dobbs; NB Femi Odaibo
Key Returning Players: QB Brandon Silvers; RB Brandon Burks; RB Jordan Chunn; S Montres Kitchens, WR Bryan Holmes
Biggest Offseason Storylines:
- How will the coaching change alter the direction of this program?
Who knew that this game would be between two coaches still trying to find their footing as new head coaches when this game was announced? That’s exactly what we’ve got though as Troy fired former head coach and turned the keys to the program over to Neal Brown.
Brown is just 34 years old, making him the second-youngest head coach in the FBS subdivision. However, he’s very familiar with the Trojans program, having coached there for four seasons and two of them as offensive coordinator.
That will be the interesting part of the deal with the Trojans, as they struggled to score points last season and hung the defense out to dry many a time. With a new head coach will the program have a new energy and perhaps make this game more interesting than it looked like as 2014 went on? Only spring and fall camp will tell us, but how Neal goes about his business with this group is something to keep an eye on this offseason.
- Will Brandon Silvers be Brown’s Guy?
Silvers started as a redshirt freshman last season to mixed results. He completed 70.5 percent of his passes and had an incredible 11 to 3 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but also only had 1,836 yards through the air.
In the more spread-style offense Troy was running last season the passing total needs to be much higher. The good news is that Brown knows how to get the most out of a Troy offense.
Brown’s 2009 offense finished third in the nation in total offense at 485.7 yards per game, fourth in passing at 336.5 yards and 16th in scoring with 33.7 points per contest. In 2008, his first season as coordinator, Brown’s fast-paced offense set 10 school records.
So, given that track record you can bet things will need to pick up in the pass game. The question is, will Silvers be up to the task or will Brown go another route at QB?
Way-Too-Early Prediction: Wisconsin 55, Troy 17
UW’s Chances for Victory: 99.9%
This game is about as automatic as they come, but that doesn’t mean the Badgers can (or will) take the Trojans lightly. UW can expect a heck of a fight from a coach who knows what it takes to win at Troy’s level and during his time with the program they gained a healthy reputation as a team the big fish didn’t really like playing against.
Still, Troy has fallen on hard times and the Badgers are very much still on the upswing. Expect the talent gap to show through early and often to say the least. Wisconsin playing at Camp Randall against a team like this…yep, it could get ugly fast.