Can Troy Rise as Fast as They Fell? – From the Bird’s Nest
Last year, I wrote a series of blogs on Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns' 2011 opponents. I remember writing about Troy and I started the blog with: Death. Taxes. Troy.
Last year, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Trojans, who won or shared five consecutive Sun Belt championships proved they were mortal. In fact, last year, they weren't very good.
3-9 really isn't a part of what Troy football is.
But that was the record.
Looking back, there were a lot of factors that played into the malady. I'm sure the coaching staff at Troy would say all of it was correctable. But there is a lot to correct:
THE DEFENSE--Long a mainstay of Troy football, the Trojans "D" just wasn't very good last year. Head Coach Larry Blakeney addressed that with junior college recruiting in the off-season. Troy probably still won't be the defensive team they were when Bear Woods, Boris Lee and DeMarcus Ware were wearing the Trojans' colors. But they should be better.
INJURIES ON OFFENSE--That was especially true of the offensive line. Troy had trouble running the football and frequently fell behind to where the Trojans had to abandon the run. The offensive line was able to develop some depth as a result and they're going to be a much better group this year.
PROBLEMS AT WIDEOUT--Before the season started, Troy learned their only two experienced receivers were academically ineligible. Eric Thomas took advantage of that to establish himself as a capable receiver, but Troy really didn't have a deep threat. Chip Reeves was one of those who was a casualty. He's back this year and he gives Troy and quarterback Corey Robinson a home run guy they didn't have last year.
CHEMISTRY ISSUES--There was lots of bickering and infighting among this group a year ago according to some close to the program. That'll kill any team. The same sources tell me this team is much more cohesive, at least right now. After all, they're undefeated.
MINUS 12--What did Louisiana coach Mark Hudspeth say at Tuesday's Press Luncheon? The most important statistic on any given Saturday is turnover margin. Minus 12 is very un-Troy like. But a defense that couldn't turn folks over combined with problems on the O-line and wide receiver added up to a year in the minus column. You won't win a ton of games with a -12 turnover margin.
Troy won it's opener against UAB last week, but in reality, they're going to have to be better than that to beat Louisiana on Saturday. But the O-line is improved, they think they've gotten better on "D", they have a deep threat at wide receiver and they've got better chemistry. And, in their opener, they were +2 in turnover margin.
Yep, they were 3-9 last year. But I chuckle at those who suggest Troy won't be right in the thick of things in the Sun Belt Conference this year.
History tells you as much.
Under-value this team at your own risk.