(This is the ninth in a series previewing the 2018 opponents of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns.  Today:  Troy.  The Cajuns travel there on November 3rd.)

It only took one season for Neal Brown to right the ship at Troy.

After a 4-8 record in Brown's first season, the Trojans have turned into one of the elite programs the last two years with a combined 21-5 record. including a pair of bowl victories.

If Brown is going to work more magic, however, it will be with a re-tooled offense.

Gone is four year starter Brandon Silvers, who set a new Troy record for most combined touchdowns in a career with 87.  Gone, too, is running back Jordan Chunn, the school's #2 career rusher.  That's a lot of yards and points to replace.

After a competitive camp, Kaleb Barker has been named the starting quarterback, although Neal Brown says Sawyer Smith will have a place in the offense as well.  The Trojans will probably be more of a running back by committee team after the loss of Chunn.  The Trojans are solid at wide receiver with two returning starters and the addition of a transfer from Louisville.  Four of the five offensive linemen are back.

But if you're looking for the strength of the Trojans, look to their defense.  The Trojans held seven opponents under 20 points a year ago and only allowed as many as 25 points once during the regular season.  Last year the Troy defense accumulated 42 sacks and, while the team returns just five starters, they should be solid defensively again, especially on the line.  Overall, of the five starters that are back, four of them received either first or second team all-conference awards a season ago.  The Trojans will be solid on special teams with the return of Marcus Green,, who returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season as well as Tyler Sumpter, who handles both kicking and punting duties.

Schedule wise, the Trojans open with Boise State at home and travel to Nebraska.  The Trojans' defense will get a stern test in the league opener at ULM.  They get four of their first six games at home.  The Trojans avoid Arkansas State and everyone in the league is looking at the season finale at Appalachian State as the game that will decide the East representative in the league's inaugural title game.

OUTLOOK:  Troy has an opportunity to make a statement in the season opener at home vs. Boise, but how much offense the Trojans will be able to muster in the opener remains to be seen.  The Trojans have three tough road games in conference (ULM, Georgia Southern, App State) so there are plenty of land mines the Trojans will have to traverse.  But the defense is probably the league's best and they should be able to keep the Trojans in games early in the season until the offense catches up.  Thanksgiving weekend in Boone will be interesting, indeed.