Preview 2017: Is Troy The Sun Belt’s Star This Year?
The big shocker last season, Troy is loaded with the talent and experience to be even better.
Last year was good for Troy, but this year’s version could be a monster.
One of the big surprises of the 2016 season, the Trojans went from being a nothing team expected to be an also-ran in the Sun Belt race, to an efficient power that pushed Clemson way too hard in Death Valley and went on to a ten-win season.
The Trojans went to a bowl for the first time since 2010 and was in the Sun Belt race until the end, but they still have plenty to prove after falling short.
Last year’s team was so good so fast, that it turned into a shocker how quickly it fell apart, getting blown out by Arkansas State at home and Georgia Southern on the road to miss out on winning part of the conference championship.
But to back it up a bit, it became easy to forget that – again – the team wasn’t supposed to do anything.
Head coach Neal Brown is only going to be 37 going into the season. He went from firing up the Texas Tech offense as its offensive coordinator, to a young head man looking to infuse some life into a once-proud Troy program.
The offense worked great, but unlike Texas Tech, Brown was able to enjoy a defense, too.
And now the expectations are there to do even more, with all the skill players back on offense – just about everyone who gained a rushing yard or caught a pass is back – and with just enough defense to take what last year’s team started and finish it off with a title.
The linebacking corps could use some work, and the pass rush needs to find some new starters, but the secondary should be fantastic at safety, and there’s a good rotation at the corners.
All the D needs to do is hold serve, and the O will take care of the rest.
First Team All-Sun Belt quarterback Brandon Silvers should put up gigantic numbers with all the returning talent around him, but he needs the tackles to do their job. The interior of the line is set, but the line that was so amazing in pass protection has to find new starters on the outside.
But all the problems the team might have coming into the season don’t mean much compared to what the Trojans had to deal with coming into last season, and everything turned out fine.
Now it’s up to Brown come pull off a few more key wins in conference play, and then be the hot young coach who’s ready to take that next step up job.
If it means Troy comes up with another double-digit win season and a bowl victory, it’ll all work out just fine.