Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pre-Season Preview: Troy Trojans

2009 Record: 9-4 (8-0 in Sun Belt)
2009 Bowl: GMAC Bowl (lost to Central Michigan 44-41)
Final 2009 AP Ranking: Not Ranked
Head Coach: Larry Blakeney (153-76-1 in 19 seasons at Troy)
Non-Conference Schedule: Bowling Green (9/4), at Oklahoma State (9/11), at UAB (9/18), at South Carolina (11/20)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 33.7 points per game (1st in Sun Belt, 16th in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 149 (6th in Sun Belt)
Passing Yards/Game: 336 (1st in Sun Belt, 4th in Nation)
Total Yards/Game: 485 (1st in Sun Belt, 3rd in Nation) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 29.8 points per game (4th in Sun Belt)
Rushing Yards/Game: 137 (4th in Sun Belt)
Passing Yards/Game: 286 (last in Sun Belt, 118th in Nation)
Total Yards/Game: 424 (6th in Sun Belt)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: -0.46 per game (7th in Sun Belt)
Penalties: 68 yards per game (8th in Sun Belt)

Returning Starters
Offense: 7
Defense: 4
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Dontavious Parker, Jr (10 of 19 for 87 yds)
Rushing: RB Shawn Southward, Soph (110 carries for 602 yds, 12 TD, 5.4 ypc, 46 ypg)
Rushing: RB DuJuan Harris, Sr (151 carries for 583 yds, 10 TD, 3.8 ypc, 44 ypg)
Receiving: WR Jerrel Jernigan, Sr (71 rec, 1101 yds, 4 TD, 5.5 rec/game)
Receiving: WR Tebiarus Gill, Sr (47 rec, 581 yds, 6 TD, 3.6 rec/game)
Tackles: DB Brian Willis, Soph (71)
Sacks: DE Mario Addison, Sr (1.5)
Interceptions: DB Brian Willis, Soph (4)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Lindy's: Not Ranked
Mark Schlabach: Not Ranked
Rivals: Not Ranked
Scout: Not Ranked
Sports Illustrated: Not Ranked
Athlon Sports: #77

2010 Pre-Season Sun Belt Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #1

Bowl Prediction:
Athlon Sports: New Orleans Bowl (vs. UTEP)

Troy won the Sun Belt Conference last year by going undefeated in conference play. They didn't have as much success outside of the conference where they dropped 4 of the 5 games they played against non-conference foes (including the bowl loss to Central Michigan). They put up some big time stats on offense last year but must replace their starting QB this year. Their defense was middle of the pack statistically in the Sun Belt and they must replace a lot of key cogs on that side of the football. We caught up with Mike from GoTroyTrojans.com to find out more about this years version of the Trojans from Troy.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

Major Strengths: Coaching staff. We’ve had some great continuity among the coaching staff with some changes that have worked to our advantage. We lost OC Tony Franklin to Auburn and we get OC Neal Brown. We set most major offensive records with him as our OC. We lose Brown to Texas Tech. Now with new OC Kenny Edenfield, we expect to continue to do well on the offense.

Biggest Weaknesses: Injuries and ineligibilities. Haha, we were hit hard (specifically in the defensive backfield) with injuries and academic ineligibles. Our top DB gets ineligible for grades yet he still gets drafted!

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test and why?

We have to make a statement from the very first game (Bowling Green). Last year we thought we’d roll into Ohio and clean their clocks. They had other plans.  We need to show that we can beat other ‘mid-majors’ first and foremost. After that, we go to Oklahoma State who we beat up in ’08 but they returned the favor in ’09. The rubber match will be a good notch on our belt….if we can win.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

Since I absolutely cannot stand Univ of Alabama’s kid brother Birmingham, I would fear them, cause if we lose, well, I can’t even fathom it. As for who I fear because the should be good and should destroy us…the only one I can come up with Univ of South Carolina because they are in the SEC. 

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Because he’s a lineman, it would be James Brown (left tackle) in my opinion. This kid came in replacing a long time starter and improved on the position. He’s big (6’4”, 346lb) and can move. No one will talk about him because he’s not a QB or receiver, but this kid makes the team better. A lot better!
Who is the best offensive player on the team?

Easy question.  Jerrel “I do it all” Jernigan.  A multi-time all conference selection, JJ has made an impact on the Trojan squad in several positions. He’s primarily a receiver, but his punt/kick return skills are highly rewarding and he even lines up at QB from time to time. While on the short side for the NFL (5’9”) we are hopeful he’s our next offensive draftee.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

Man, we lost some great defensive players this year.  From our Killer B’s Linebacker duo (Bear Woods-Falcons and Boris Lee-Chargers) to our great defensive ends (Cam Sheffield-Chiefs and Brandon Lang-Chargers) we’ve got a lot of replacing to do. One young bright spot from last year was freshman All-American defensive back Bryan Willis. This kid started all 13 games, 4 INT, and returned an onside kick for a TD. He’s super athletic and will have to be an automatic leader for not only our defensive backfield, but for our entire defense.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

There are a lot of candidates here.  If you polled the Trojan Nation, you would hear names like Jamie Hampton (possible starting QB), Donnell Golden (possible starting LB) or even Josh Jarboe (possible starting WR).  But I’m going to go with someone who is listed as a 3rd teamer after spring. LSU transfer Sidell Corley. This 6’4” 274lb defensive lineman came to TROY out of shape and never really made a huge impact last year (didn’t need to with our starters and second stringers). This year, however, he has to step up and move up. Not only does he have to start for us, he has to be the next big thing for us on the defensive line. 

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

Gut feeling, huh?  Sheesh, no pressure to be anyone’s message board fodder!  I truly want to say 10-2, but since we are replacing a TON of talent off of last year’s team, I’ll go with 9-3 or 8-4. This does not count a bowl game, which I do think we’ll make again.  

Next Up: Utah Utes

2010 Previews
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Michigan WolverinesMinnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers
Conference USA- Houston Cougars
MAC- Temple Owls


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