#78 Troy Football 2017 Preview

Troy Trojans
Overall Rank: #78
#2 Sun Belt
Not much was expected from Troy heading into the 2016 campaign, but the Trojans had a superb season. They nearly beat Clemson and finished the year with ten wins, including a victory over Ohio in the Dollar General Bowl. The Trojans competed for a Sun Belt title, but fell short after disappointing losses to Arkansas State and Georgia Southern towards the end of the regular season. They will look to claim a conference title in 2017.
2016 Record: 10-3, 6-2
2016 Bowl: Dollar General Bowl vs. Ohio (W 28-23)
Coach: Neal Brown (14-11 at Troy, 14-11 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kenny Edenfield
Defensive Coordinator: Vic Koenning
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jordan Chunn, RB, 1,288 yards
Passing: Brandon Silvers, QB, 3,180 yards
Receiving: Emanuel Thompson, WR, 820 yards
Tackles: Cedarius Rookard, S, 52; Kris Weatherspoon, S, 52
Sacks: Baron Poole, DL, 3.5
Interceptions: Blace Brown, CB, 6
Other Key Returnees: RB Josh Anderson, WR Deondre Douglas, WR Tevaris McCormick, CB Kamryn Melton, DL Jamal Stadom
Key Losses: OL Antonio Garcia, OL Tyler Lassiter, LB William Lloyd, DL Rashad Dillard, LB Demetrius Cain, DB Jalen Roundtree, LB Terris Lewis, LB Justin Lucas, K Ryan Kay
All the skill players return to an offense that led the Sun Belt in scoring. Quarterback Brandon Silvers threw for 3,180 yards and 23 touchdowns and did a superb job of putting the offense in a good position to succeed. Silvers will spread the ball around and all of his favorite targets are back. Emanuel Thompson led the way with 80 catches for 820 yards and Deondre Douglas added 60 receptions for 740 yards. Tevaris McCormick, John Johnson and running back Jordan Chunn all added at least 20 catches. Chunn does need to be a more productive rusher though. Against inferior opponents he was very good, but the ground game often struggled against the better defenses in the Sun Belt. With an established ground game, this offense can be really, really good.
There are more players to replace on defense, but the surprise season was in large part due to the great play of an inexperienced defense that few expected to do much of anything in 2016. The story could be the same in 2017 as the unit replaces a couple ends and all three linebackers. The front seven will build around a great group of tackles, led by Jamal Stadom. There are some decent pass rushers on the roster too, but it remains to be seen if the linebackers can take advantage of the push provided by the line like they did last season. The secondary boasts a couple experienced safeties in Cedarius Rookard and Kris Weatherspoon, who both tallied 52 tackles in 2016. Cornerback Blace Brown will make plenty of big plays and picked off six passes as a sophomore. As long as Coach Neal Brown can find some new linebackers and at least one pass rushing threat at an end spot, the defense should be solid. That may not be easy to do though.
The Bottom Line:
If the defense does do enough to be as good as they were last season, Troy has the offensive firepower to win the Sun Belt. Appalachian State missing from the schedule does not hurt, but that does rob us of what would likely have been the game of the year in the conference. The Trojans have plenty of other big games though. Perhaps the most important will be the December 2nd trip to Arkansas State, but Troy fans will want to see what their team can do against Boise State on September 2nd and LSU on September 30th after their close call with Clemson last September.
Projected Bowl: Dollar General Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 169.2 (73rd in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 260.5 (37, 1)
Total Offense: 429.6 (53, 2)
Scoring Offense: 33.7 (39, 1)
Rushing Defense: 120.2 (17, 1)
Pass Defense: 246.4 (85, 7)
Total Defense: 366.5 (35, 3)
Scoring Defense: 22.1 (21, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.77 (12, 2)
Sacks: 2.23 (53, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 0.62 (1, 1)


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