2009 Troy Trojans Football Preview
2008 Record: (8-5, 6-1)
2008 Bowl: New Orleans Bowl vs. Southern Miss (L 27-30)
Coach: Larry Blakeney (144-73-1 at Troy, 144-73-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Neal Brown
Defensive Coordinator: Jeremy Rowell
Other Key Returnees: G Steven Adams, G Tyler Clark, WR Andrew Davis, C Danny Franks, QB Jamie Hampton, K Sam Glusman, DE Cameron Sheffield, LB Bear Woods
Key Losses: WR Kennard Burton, DT Maurice Coleman, CB Trevor Ford, DT Dion Gales, OT Chris Jamison, S Sherrod Martin, DT Steve McLendon, S Terence Moore, OT Dion Small, WR Gerald Tate, WR Mykeal Terry, S Tavares Williams
Troy dominated the Sun Belt Conference, but they failed to make their mark on the national stage. Losing to Ohio State, Oklahoma State and LSU is certainly understandable, but the Trojans could have beaten Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl and at least given the team a little more momentum heading into the 2009 campaign.
The Troy defense in 2008 was extremely impressive. The unit ranked first in the conference in pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. And that might not change this year. The interior of the front line needs to be replaced, but ends Brandon Lang and Cameron Sheffield are talented seniors who will make the line good no matter who fills the holes in the middle. The Trojans ranked third in the nation averaging 3.23 sacks per game and those lofty numbers will continue with Lang and Sheffield. Linebackers Boris Lee and Bear Woods both tallied over 100 tackles last year and are poised for huge senior campaigns. The secondary is where there will be the most turnover, but corner Jorrick Calvin is a good cover man and the new starters have some experience and it will be much easier for them since the front four will get pressure on the opposing quarterback.
It is very hard to call the Troy offense a weakness. Quarterback Levi Brown is a playmaker who threw for 2,030 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2008. Brown is not a mobile quarterback, but he makes up for that with his decision making. He completed nearly 62 percent of his pass attempts and threw a mere three interceptions. With Jerrel Jernigan returning to be his top receiving target, the pass offense should be one of the best in the Sun Belt Conference yet again. The news on the ground is just as good. DuJuan Harris rushed for over 1,000 yards during his sophomore campaign and reached the end zone a total of 14 times. There is some bad news somewhere on the offense. Both starting tackles, Dion Small and Chris Jamison are gone and the entire offense could be less effective if Tyler Graves and Nic Riley are not ready to fill the void.
The Bottom Line for the Trojans:
There is little doubt who the favorite to take home the conference title is in 2009. The Trojans outperformed their expectations a year ago and that was with a pretty young team. Now this is a squad full of juniors and seniors. The schedule is not quite as tough as it was last year, but Troy will get an opportunity to knock off Florida and Arkansas and become the darling of the 2009 season.
By Joel Welser
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