Kantor: In week 1, we saw South Alabama beat Mississippi State and Appalachian State outplay Tennessee. Now their Sun Belt conference mates, the Trojans from Troy, come to Clemson. Troy struggled in the Sun Belt a season ago, but so did South Alabama, and Troy returns 15 starters from 2015. Is Troy as good as these other Sun Belt teams who made waves in week 1?
Messenger: Troy is improved this season, but they are not better than South Alabama or Appalachian State. App State is as good a G5 program as you'll find and they have the most important ingredient in pulling an upset: belief. App State has beaten Michigan at the "Big House", so they genuinely believe they can play with anybody. South Alabama had the luxury of playing Mississippi State in their first game post-Dak Prescott. The Jaguars went into the half down 17-0 against Mississippi State, but they went on to outscore the Bulldogs 21-3 in the second half and got some help from Mississippi State kicker Westin Graves, who missed the go-ahead field go as time expired.
Kantor: Troy likes to pass the ball. Could we see them challenge Mark Fields and Ryan Carter with an aggressive pass-heavy attack? If so, is that exactly the type of challenge want in this early season tune-up?
Messenger: I expect Troy to test Clemson's inexperienced secondary early and often. Troy's best shot at an upset is through the air. Trojan's quarterback Brandon Silvers is one of the best signal callers in the Sun Belt. Coming into his 3rd year as starter, Silvers has completed 65.9% of his passes for 4,214 yards and 31 touchdowns. This is exactly the type of test the Tigers need. Clemson's secondary is inexperienced, as we all know, and can use as much live game experience as possible with an explosive Louisville squad coming down the pike.
Kantor: What can Troy do to stay competitive?
Messenger: To stay competitive Troy must contain Deshaun Watson. Make Watson beat them in long drives, not explosive chunk plays. The better the Trojans can disguise their coverage's and blitzes the better off they'll be. On offense, Troy must have success through the air. Clemson's front seven is tough to run the ball against. Just watch the Auburn tape. The Trojans need to strike early to gain some momentum. Watch for trick plays, as this can be a good way to catch Clemson off guard and create doubt in the minds of their players.
Kantor: Aside from a lopsided Tiger win, what type of progress or proficiency are you hoping to see from Clemson on Saturday?
Messenger: I am hoping to see Watson distribute the ball to receivers not named Mike Williams. Don't get me wrong I am thrilled to see Williams playing the way that he is. However, against the upper echelon teams (FSU, UNC, Louisville, etc.) other players will have to step up and make plays. There is no shortage of talent at the wide receiver position with guys like Artavis Scott, Hunter Renfrow, Deon Cain, and Ray-Ray McCloud. I am also anxious to see how our return teams perform.