The Troy Trojans motto this season is #RebuildTheWall, a reference to Greek mythology and Homer's Iliad, to try to reattain the success they saw with five straight Sun Belt conference championships from 2006-10.
The No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers also looked to rebuild their wall around defending the end zone after giving up 35 points in the season opener to Alabama two weeks earlier. There were positive steps seen last week against Miami (Ohio), shutting down the RedHawks' offense to the tune of 157 yards and no points in a 58-0 whomping.
It wasn't a Herculean task for the Badgers on Saturday afternoon to keep the charging Trojans from victory -- but at times, it wasn't pretty. Troy's dink and dunk passing game -- when getting in rhythm -- moved the chains efficiently against the No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers' defense on Saturday afternoon. Five Trojan drives were of nine plays or longer, with each taking up more than four minutes chunks off the clock.
Couple that with the questionable ejections of two contributing members of the defense, and the football gods may have looked to shine upon Troy, but the Badgers held firm in defending their "wall" at Camp Randall Stadium and forced a key turnover which proved to be the Trojans' own Achilles' heel in Wisconsin's 28-3 victory.
The Badgers faced another spread offense -- though the Trojans presented a new challenge in primarily using four wide receivers in their sets out of the shotgun.
When speaking with redshirt junior outside linebacker Vince Biegel last Wednesday, he noted the defense would use similar personnel against Troy as they did against Miami (Ohio). You noticed that as well, with the Badgers in their peso "2-4-5" nickel package. Outside of a handful it times, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's defense kept to this look for the majority of the game.
By the numbers
3: Points given up by Wisconsin's defense Saturday
3: Points given up by Wisconsin's defense in last two games
157: Yards gained by Miami (Ohio) last Saturday
255: Yards gained by Troy on Saturday
1: Turnovers forced by Wisconsin Saturday
7: Points off said turnover by Wisconsin
4-of-8: Third-down conversions for Troy in first half
7-of-16: Third down conversions for Troy for entire game
5: Drives by the Trojans that went nine plays, four minutes-plus
4: Sacks by senior outside linebacker Joe Schobert on the season
7.5: Tackles for loss by Joe Schobert on the season
12.5: Tackles for loss by Schobert and Biegel combined for the season
14: Tackles by true freshman Chris Orr after replacing Leon Jacobs (11 solo)
23: Longest play of the game given up by Badgers defense Saturday
0: Touchdowns scored against Wisconsin defense for second consecutive week
1. Chris Orr. The true freshman from Desoto, Tex. stepped up after Jacobs was tossed for the questionable targeting call in the first quarter. He flew around the field and seemed to be around the ball most of the time. Orr proved he belonged in the two-deep in a contributing fashion on Saturday.
"I thought Chris did some really good things," head coach Paul Chryst said after the game. "He showed up in the run game, and I know he made a big stop on a pass break-up on a third down, and it was good for him. I'm sure he'll look -- last week, it was alternating. This week he was able to because of circumstance, played a lot. He showed up and it was good I think."
2. Run defense. Orr contributed to this, but the Badgers held the Trojans to 88 yards on 2.5 yards per carry. Seven tackles for loss stalled the offense and senior running back Brandon Burks -- who came into the game with six 100-yard rushing efforts in his career.
3. Avoiding the big plays. The Badgers may have given up passes of 5, 10, 15 yards at times, but did not allow any big mistakes in both the run and pass games of Troy. The Trojans' longest play of the day? Only 23 yards. Wisconsin's defense for the most part, kept the Trojans in front of them and didn't miss many tackles.
4. Joe the Show and the third quarter strip-sack. With another six tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, the former walk-on also forced a strip-sack in a key drive for the Trojans in the third quarter. Troy drove to Wisconsin's 25-yard line before Schobert blew past the left tackle and forced sophomore quarterback Brandon Silvers to fumble, which was recovered by redshirt senior Michael Caputo. That was the play of the game, as the Badgers drove down the field thereafter and scored on redshirt senior Tanner McEvoy's 32-yard scamper to extend the lead to 21-3.
Schobert noted disruptive plays were key coming in against spread offenses to interrupt the rhythm they establish. That, along with two other sacks by the Badgers on the day, helped fend off the Trojans from "scaling the wall."
1. Third-down conversions. This statistics has been a successful staple of Aranda's defense since he took over as defensive coordinator. On Saturday, Troy was able to pick apart the Badgers with some short conversions. Wisconsin allowed 4-of-8 conversions in the first half, but halted the momentum in the second half with a 7-for-16 effort overall. The Badgers came in only allowing first downs on 9-of-29 conversions.
2. Five drives of nine-plus plays. Give the Trojans credit. The Badgers came in respecting this up-temp offense and knew they'd have to disrupt at some points. Wisconsin only forced three true three-and-outs against Troy's offense, and they productive offense moved the chains at times Saturday. However, it wasn't enough to get them in the end zone.