#69 Troy 2018 Football Preview

Troy Trojans
Overall Rank: #69
#2 Sun Belt
 Troy Logo
Troy had a superb 2017 season, going 11-2 and 7-1 in conference play. They capped off their Sun Belt title winning season with a nice victory over North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl. Coach Neal Brown has done a superb job so far, but this year the Trojans have some superstars that need to be replaced.
2017 Record: 11-2, 7-1
2017 Bowl: New Orleans Bowl vs. North Texas (W 50-30)
Coach: Neal Brown (25-13 at Troy, 25-13 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Moore
Defensive Coordinator: Vic Koenning
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jamarius Henderson, RB, 355 yards
Passing: Kaleb Barker, QB, 143 yards
Receiving: Deondre Douglas, WR, 618 yards
Tackles: Tron Folsom, LB, 80
Sacks: Hunter Reese, DL, 6.5
Interceptions: Blace Brown, CB, 5
Other Key Returnees: WR Damion Willis, OL Deontae Crumitie, OL Tristan Crowder, CB Marcus Jones, S Cedarius Rookard, DT Marcus Webb, DL Trevon Sanders
Key Losses: RB Jordan Chunn, RB Josh Anderson, QB Brandon Silvers, OL Steven Rowzee, DL Jamal Stadom
Brandon Silvers is gone after starting at quarterback for the last four years. During his senior season he threw for 3,290 yards and 17 touchdowns, while completing 63.9 percent of his passes. Kaleb Barker was Silvers backup last season and threw for 143 yards. He also rushed for 181 yards. Sophomore Sawyer Smith is the other option. With top receivers Deondre Douglas and Damion Willis, the passing game has potential. At running back, Jordan Chunn and Josh Anderson need to be replaced. There are quality options though. Jamarius Henderson averaged 7.9 yards per carry in limited action last year, while junior college transfer Kevin Perkins is a bruiser who can run between the tackles. And with B.J. Smith Troy should be able to move the ball on the ground.
It was the Trojans defense that won them the Sun Belt in 2017. They ranked first in the conference in rush defense, total defense and scoring defense. With six starters back, they can do it again. Hunter Reese is the star of the unit. He recorded 6.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles-for-loss and should be in for a big senior season. Trevon Sanders is a talented nose tackle who helps create space for players like Reese to get to the quarterback. Tron Folsom was the team’s top tackler a season ago, recording 80 on the year. In the secondary, cornerback Blace Brown is a big time playmaker. He intercepted five passes last year and six the previous season. Marcus Jones and Jawon McDowell are ready to play a larger role at cornerback as well and safety Cedarius Rookard is a sure tackler.
The Bottom Line:
Troy should have a very good defense that keeps them in nearly every game. This is a team that will get to the quarterback and stuff the best running backs the Sun Belt has to offer. The offense may need some time to replace Silvers and their running backs, but there are options and an experienced offensive line to work behind. Not playing Arkansas State should leave the season finale at Appalachian State as the big game of the season. That contest could decide who wins the Sun Belt.
Projected Bowl: Dollar General Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 143.9 (89th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 269.6 (33, 5)
Total Offense: 413.5 (51, 5)
Scoring Offense: 31.5 (43, 4)
Rushing Defense: 105.3 (7, 1)
Pass Defense: 231.3 (75, 4)
Total Defense: 336.6 (24, 1)
Scoring Defense: 18.5 (11, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (26, 2)
Sacks: 3.23 (7, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.15 (13, 2)