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Opponent Preview - Troy

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NC State meets Troy to start the season

Todd Bennett/Getty Images

2014 Schedule and Results

@ UAB L

10-48

Duke L 17-34
Abilene Christian L 35-38
@ Georgia L 0-66
@ UL Monroe L 20-22
New Mexico St W 41-24
Appalachian State L 14-53
@ South Alabama L 13-27
@ Georgia Southern L 10-42
Georgia St W 45-21
@ Idaho W 34-17
UL Lafeyette L 23-42


Overview

Up until recently, Troy had a reputation of going to power five teams and pushing them right to the edge. Single digit losses at LSU, Florida State, Oklahoma State, and South Carolina are just a few examples of how competitive Troy was over the last ten years or so. They were regularly one of the best teams in the Sun Belt under the highly successful Larry Blakeney, but all good things must come to an end. After five straight years of eight-plus wins (2006-2010), Troy hasn’t been to a bowl game since, and last season’s three win campaign was the final one for Blakeney, who retired after more than twenty years in Troy.

Former Troy and Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown will take over the reins this year for Troy. As you may have assumed from the words "Texas Tech offensive coordinator," the new head coach intends to speed up the offense, spread things out, and score a lot of points. The good news for Troy is that the pieces are there for assembling. The bad news is that the offense struggled last year, ranking in the hundreds in yards per game, so assembling those pieces should take some work. State will likely see sophomore quarterback Brandon Silvers in week one, who had a solid freshman campaign and should get plenty more opportunities to throw the ball in the revamped offense. Silvers is also the only underclassmen expected to start on an experienced offensive unit. He completed over seventy percent of his passes last year, and will have a senior laden receiving corps to throw to this year, including last year’s leading receiver Bryan Holmes, and seniors K.D. Edenfield and Teddy Ruben. They also return both their leading rushers, senior Brandon Burks and junior Jordan Chunn. The duo accounted for 1089 yards on the ground and nine touchdowns, while both averaging more than four yards a carry. Their rushing attack ranked fifty-eighth last year in FBS, and frankly was the only major offensive category where they were ranked above terrible. The offensive line that these backs will run behind returns two starters (center Dalton Bennett and tackle Antonio Garcia) that have the potential to be all-sun belt performers, but the other three starters are not returning, and some rebuilding will be necessary along the line. The new offensive style that coach Neal Brown is bringing in should make Troy’s offensive instantly more productive, and he has some quality pieces to work with. However, us State fans certainly know that a rebuild takes time, and it would be crazy to expect Brown’s new system to be firing on all cylinders in week one of his first season.

If anything in the above paragraph made you worry about the improvement Troy’s offense could see, then this should make you feel better. Five starters return from a 2014 edition of Troy’s defense that surrendered 454 yards per game and ranked in the hundreds in scoring, rushing, and total defense. Obviously they needed a change, so who did they hire to take control of the defense? Vic Koenning (yep, that Vic Koenning). Koenning was fired from his post at North Carolina last year after his defense was one of the few in the country to allow more yards per game than Troy’s. They return sack leader (5 sacks) Tyler Roberts and all-sun belt safety Montres Kitchens (six interceptions last season), so that’s good news for them, but this defense will need a major overhaul after giving up more than forty points five times in 2014. While the pass defense was statistically decent, that may have as much to do with how bad the run defense was than anything. Georgia Southern's explosive offense posted 421 yards of just rushing against them in a 42-10 blowout, and Georgia had three backs average over ten yards per carry against them in a 66-0 romping. The Wolfpack’s potent rushing attack could have a field day against a defense that is at base camp of it’s mountain of a rebuild.