2012 Overall Rank: #92
#5 Sun Belt
It has been a while since the folks in Troy, Alabama have seen such a bad season from their Trojans. Troy mustered just three victories during the 2011 campaign and the usually explosive offense never found their groove. Coach Larry Bakeney trusts that his offense will improve, mostly because there is only one direction to go. Troy has also taken a new approach to their defense in the hopes of adding speed.
2011 Record: (3-9, 2-6)
2011 Bowl: None
Coach: Larry Blakeney (164-91-1 at Troy, 164-91-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kenny Edenfield
Defensive Coordinator: Jeremy Rowell
Rushing: Shawn Southward, RB, 556 yards
Passing: Corey Robinson, QB, 3,411 yards
Receiving: Eric Thomas, WR, 875 yards
Tackles: Brynden Trawick, S, 123
Sacks: Tony Davis, DE, 2.5
Interceptions: Barry Valcin, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: LB Brannon Bryan, LB Kanorris Davis, G Zach Johnson, WR Corey Johnson, OT Terrence Jones, RB D.J. Taylor, G Kyle Wilborn, CB Bryan Willis, WR Chandler Worthy
Key Losses: CB Jimmie Anderson, LB Xavier Lamb, S LaDarrius Madden, DE Jonathan Massaquoi, DE John Robles
The offensive struggles came down to two things; poor decision making by quarterback Corey Robinson and the complete lack of a ground game. Both of those issues should be far less prevalent in 2012. Robinson, despite his 15 interceptions, still threw for 3,411 yards and 21 touchdowns. He is an experienced upperclassman now and keeping the ball is something this team has worked on during the offseason. With receivers Eric Thomas, Corey Johnson, Chandler Worthy and Justin Albert all returning, Robinson has all the weapons he needs to keep the passing attack moving efficiently. Thomas, a 6-1 junior, led the squad with 875 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last year and should be the go-to-target yet again. But even if the air game is solid, Robinson will need help from the running backs to open up the offense. And, on paper, that should not be a problem. Shawn Southward, D.J. Taylor and Chris Anderson are all back. The senior trio failed to do much of anything last season, but all three are pretty good backs and at the least Coach Blakeney will have the luxury of riding the hot hand.
Part of the reason the ground game only rushed for 88.67 yards per game in 2011 was because the Trojans often found themselves behind. That forced Robinson to throw the ball, and sometimes forced him to make bad decisions in the process. That is what happens when the defense is bad on every level. The Trojans are moving to a 3-4 scheme to add more speed to the unit and that should be beneficial in the Sun Belt. However, somebody needs to stuff the run up front. Troy can live without superstar pass rusher Jonathan Massaquoi as long as Tony Davis has a decent senior season. But there are big questions at tackle where Shermane TeArt is the only player with significant playing experience. The linebackers lose some talent too, but they have a solid senior leader in Brannon Bryan. Senior Jacoby Thomas should be a nice fit as the rush linebacker, but the pressure will be on other players like Dimitri Miles and Kanorris Davis to help the front line and drop back in coverage when necessary. Breaking in a new cornerback opposite of Bryan Willis will make the linebackers versatility all the more important.
The Bottom Line:
The best thing the defense has going for it are safeties Brynden Trawick and Barry Valcin. Trawick was a tackling machine in 2011, totaling 123. He will be the leader of the unit. Valcin will need to step up his role, but he is a very good ball hawk who has the ability to tilt the turnover margin in Troy’s favor. And turnovers may be what makes the biggest difference for the Trojans between a forgettable 2011 and a return to past glory in 2012.
Projected Bowl: None
2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 88.67 (117th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 291.33 (17, 2)
Total Offense: 380.00 (65, 5)
Scoring Offense: 22.42 (94, 7)
Rushing Defense: 203.58 (105, 8)
Pass Defense: 261.42 (101, 8)
Total Defense: 465.00 (113, 9)
Scoring Defense: 33.67 (101, 7)
Turnover Margin: -1.00 (114, 9)
Sacks: 1.58 (86, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.67 (49, 4)