Much like water or unemployment, college football programs are cyclical. The cycle lengths and patterns vary, but the basics of the cycle are the same. Unfortunately, those variations make it very difficult to accurately identify where any given program is in the cycle, with obvious exceptions like being a defending champion. For Troy, it seems like this season might be the final trough before Neal Brown leads this program back to Sun Belt prominence.
You will be hard pressed to find a better quarterback and scheme fit than Brandon Silvers and Neal Brown’s quick-hitting Air Raid offense. Silvers completed over 70% of his pass attempts as a freshman last season breaking Sam Bradford’s freshman record. If he can continue that performance over a larger sample size, then Troy’s rebound may come about sooner than anticipated.
The remainder of the offense is competent, although not outstanding. This lack of firepower may cause mediocre numbers across the board. Brandon Burks and Jordan Chunn both return to form an at least reasonable running back duo. Burks is also one of the better personalities in the conference according to various journalists.
Chandler Worthy would have been a nice possession receiver to put into this offense, but he’s gone now and Bryan Holmes and K.D. Edenfield will have to take up his mantle. Holmes emerged as a decent downfield threat last season, and he and Edenfield both caught 65% or more of their targets.
LG Dalton Bennett may be one of the strongest individual pieces of the offense and he and LT Antonio Garcia make up what should be a fairly solid left side of the line.
Much of the defense returns intact, led by safety Montres Kitchens who’s a unanimous preseason All-Sun Belt selection after hauling in six interceptions last season. Kitchens, who apparently has a proclivity for one-handed interceptions, is also one of the top NFL prospects in the conference. It should help that his fellow safety JaQuadrian Lewis is back, also.
Up front, two productive ends return to comprise a solid foundation in the trenches. Jamal Stadom and Tyler Roberts combined to produce 16.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles this year. If they can replicate that, then at the very least this Trojan defense may be able to create enough havoc to win some games.
An issue with this team is going to be in the middle. Terris Lewis is the top returning tackler at linebacker and he only played in five games last season. No other linebacker on this roster averaged more than two tackles a game last season. Good news is that help may be on the way with William Lloyd and Justin Lucas transferring in from East Mississippi Community College.
This is a far cry from where almost any Troy fan would have expected to be even a few years ago, but lackluster recruiting and enthusiasm have led to a quick deluge. Fortunately, the Troy fan base and administrators care enough to proactively remedy the solution, and while that may not pay dividends this season it will help going forward. Be patient Troy fans, brighter days are coming. Also with only four home games in 2015, most of the damage should at least be done away from Troy. Home dates against Charleston Southern and Idaho present good opportunities to pick up wins.
Cover Photo Courtesy of Thomas Graning/AP Photo