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‘Minor’ procedure on throwing hand will sideline Troy’s first-team all-SBC QB for the spring

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One of the top quarterbacks in the Sun Belt will watch from the sidelines as his teams begins preparations in earnest for the 2017 season.

Troy will kick off spring practice Thursday, and one player will be notably absent — quarterback Brandon Silvers.  By way of the Dothan Eagle, the Trojans confirmed Wednesday that the senior underwent what they described as a “minor procedure” on his right (throwing) hand.

As a result, Silvers will miss all 15 of the spring practice sessions scheduled over the next month or so.  The expectation is that Silvers will be healthy enough for the start of summer camp in early August.

Last season, Silvers passed for 3,180 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Trojans.  The latter total was tops amongst conference signal-callers, while the former was second in the league behind Idaho’s Matt Linehan (3,184).

Following the regular season, Silvers was named first-team All-SBC.

Troy rewards Neal Brown with contract extension

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Coming off the best won/loss performance in the football program’s FBS history, Troy’s decided to reward its head coach.

According to the Dothan Eagle, athletic director Jeremy McClain has confirmed that “Troy University and head football coach Neal Brown have agreed in principle to a new four-year extension” through the 2020 season.  The financial particulars were not detailed, although that should come in the next few weeks.

Brown’s salary in 2016 was $660,000. That was third amongst Sun Belt Conference coaches, behind Louisiana-Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth ($1.1 million) and Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson ($700,000).

In 2014, the Trojans were 3-9.  The following season, the first under Brown, Troy went 4-8.  In 2016, the Trojans posted the program’s first 10-win season at the FBS level.

The Dollar General Bowl win was the program’s first in the postseason since 2010.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

Troy captures 10th win in Dollar General Bowl thanks to Ohio turnovers

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The Armed Forces Bowl preceded the Dollar General Bowl on Friday night and, in the former, the defenses could do few things right.

In the latter? Well, the script was flipped and it was the offenses who had trouble getting going.

Ohio turned the ball over five times — four in the first half — and Troy chipped in with two more, but ended up with a close 28-23 win that was sloppy and entertaining at the same time.

Bobcats quarterback Greg Windham threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns but had a night to forget otherwise with four interceptions and a lost fumble. The ground game for the MAC runners up wasn’t much better as no player had over 25 yards rushing on the night.

The bulk of those turnovers allowed Troy to find the end zone despite a lackluster offensive outing, turning three takeaways into three touchdowns. Signal-caller Brandon Silvers, who grew up about an hour away from Ladd-Peebles Stadium, didn’t do much better holding on to the ball (two interceptions) and could only muster 235 yards and a score through the air.

Despite all those struggles and the inability to really put away a pesky Ohio team that has played just about everybody close, Troy still came away with the victory and hit the double-digit win marker for the first time as a program.

It capped an impressive season for the Trojans and one of the bigger turnarounds in all of college football under first year head coach Neal Brown.

Troy holds halftime lead over Ohio in turnover-filled Dollar General Bowl

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The worst deal of the postseason was saved up for the Dollar General Bowl as a bundle of turnovers was on sale at a big discount.

Troy managed to secure four takeaways in the first half on Friday night to help them hold a slim 21-17 lead over Ohio after a bit of a game of hot potato between the two offenses.

Trojans signal-caller Brandon Silvers threw for 178 yards and a touchdown but turned the ball over twice himself as a result of a pair of interceptions in the first quarter. He didn’t get much help from his running game either as the normally prolific offense was held to just 63 yards rushing.

At least Troy was having a better outing than their opponent as the MAC runners up were held to 234 yards of total offense and simply could not hold onto the ball until late in the second quarter. Quarterback Greg Windham had a few good numbers (209 yards, two touchdowns) but threw three interceptions in the first half, fumbled on another drive, and was sacked three times to boot in a performance he’d rather forget about in the locker room.

Neither veteran coach Frank Solich or young gun Neal Brown have to be happy with the way things went through the first two quarters so expect plenty of adjustments for a second half where ball security will naturally be paramount.