2011 Troy Preview – Offense
Troy OT James Brown
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Troy Trojan Offense
Preview 2011 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: The Troy offense was supposed to undergo a little bit of a change after bombing away in 2009, but offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield didn’t mix things up too much as the offense finished 11th in the nation in passing, and first in the Sun Belt in both passing and rushing. Sophomore Corey Robinson is the star of the passing game with good rushing ability and the potential to once again put up huge numbers following a 3,726-yard campaign. Shawn Southward and Chris Anderson and small, quick backs who can crank out yards in chunks and they can also catch. The receiving corps is full of options, and while some new players need to step up to replace Jerrell Jernigan, there’s good potential. The line gets back two key starters, led by James Brown at tackle, but the pass protection has to improve.
Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Corey Robinson
Passing: Corey Robinson
321-505, 3,726 yds, 28 TD, 15 INT
Rushing: Shawn Southward
115 carries, 623 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Chip Reeves
30 catches, 515 yds, 5 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore WR Khary Franklin
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman OT Terrence Jones
Best pro prospect: Senior OT James Brown (as a guard)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Robinson, 2) Brown, 3) RB Shawn Southward
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, Versatile Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Veteran Offensive Linemen, No. 1 Receiver
There was a dogfight for the starting quarterback job going into last year, but sophomore Corey Robinson turned out to be the one worthy of taking over for Levi Brown, and he came up with a strong first season throwing for 3,726 yards and 28 touchdowns. While he threw 15 picks and didn’t offer much in the way of ground production, he improved as the year went on and closes out with three straight 300-yard games, including a 387-yard, four score performance in the bowl win over Ohio, while limiting his mistakes. He threw a whopping 11 picks in a five-game midseason stretch, but he only threw one over the final three games. Only 6-0 and 214 pounds, he’s not all that big, but he has a live arm and can throw with a nice touch on his deep passes and decent accuracy. Kentucky’s former Mr. Football is smart, tough, and he makes things happen on the move.
Senior Jamie Hampton was supposed to be the star in 2008, but he struggled when he got his chance, redshirted in 2009 after suffering a season-ending knee injury. Expected to be the starter going into last season, the 6-1, 212-pounder lost his job to Corey Robinson and now is a strong No. 2 backup once he’s 100% after suffering a broken leg in the middle of last year.
Pushing Hampton will be redshirt freshman
Luke Barnes, a 6-2, 195-pound passer who destroyed the Florida high school record brooks, and broke several marks held by Danny Wuerffel. He would’ve been a bigger recruit but he suffered a torn ACL in his senior year, and while he has enough passing talent to be in the mix now, his time will come in a few years.
Watch Out For … Robinson to take a step up in his overall production. He was trying to figure out what he was doing last year, and while he made a slew of mistakes, he also showed a command for the offense as the season went on. Expect him to push for the 4,000-yard mark if he gets the time to work.
Strength: Decent backup options. The two top backups at the end of last year, Jonathan Chandler and Tanner Jones, are both gone, but Hampton has been around forever and Barnes is a tremendous talent who’ll one day put up big number.
Weakness: Mobility. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much rushing production from the quarterbacks last season even through most of the options moved better than Levi Brown ever did. The Troy quarterback is going to be a passer, and even though Robinson can move, don’t expect many yards on the ground.
Outlook: The quarterback battle of last year is over and Robinson is the present and the future. He’ll be in the hunt for all-star honors if he can cut down on his picks and be a bit more consistent. While he won’t have Jerrel Jernigan to throw to anymore, he has a year of experience under his belt and he should be better. Hampton can step in at a moment’s notice, and Barnes is a great prospect to keep an eye on.
Unit Rating: 7
There wasn’t a whole bunch of room for many carries in the Troy passing offense, but junior Shawn Southward
made the most of his attempts averaging 5.4 yards per carry with seven scores and a team-leading 623 yards. A dangerous threat whenever he got the ball in his hands, he was a dangerous receiver, too, with 13 catches for 190 yards and two scores including a key 17-yard play in the win over Arkansas State. At 5-8 and 182 pounds he’s a small, quick back who manages to make things happen in the open field, but he’s not a workhorse with the 13 carries in the opener against Bowling Green the most he had all year.
One of the keys to the will be Chris Anderson, the star JUCO wide receiver transfer of last year who took over the running back job late in the season. He ran for 388 yards and three touchdowns on 94 carries, but he showed flashes in the passing game with 19 catches for 119 yards and a score. He’ll get a shot in several spots and will push for time early on at the if he’s not in the backfield.
Southward will work in the F position, while 5-11, 228-pound junior D.J. Taylor
will operate as a sort of fullback in the Big H spot. While he’s not much of a runner, with just 12 carries for 60 yards and two scores, he became a bit more involved as the season went on. He’ll also be used as a tailback from time to time, while 6-0, 205-pound freshman
Brian Exley will need to take on a bigger role doing a little bit of everything as both a runner and a receiver. He has the size to be a blocker, and he has just enough quickness to be dangerous in the open field.
Watch Out For … Taylor and Exley to play bigger roles. With last year’s top prospect, Chris Anderson, move to receiver, Southward will be the main man and the opportunities will be there for the backups to make a big impact. Taylor will bring the power, while Exley could find a job as a third down back.
Strength: The quicks. Southward can cut on a dime and stops-and-stars in a hiccup, while Taylor and Exley can move for being bigger backs. Partly because of the function of the offense, Troy backs crank out yards in chunks, and it’ll be a bit of a shocker if this group doesn’t average at least 4.5 yards per pop.
Weakness: Backup experience. Anderson can always move back to running back in a pinch, and Taylor has a little bit of experience, but Southward will have to prove he can handle the ball about 150 times this year and will have to show he can hold up. He’s not built to take a massive pounding.
Outlook: Troy used 11 different players to carry the ball, including receivers, and the results were positive with four players going over the 300 yards mark. Unfortunately, one was WR Jerrel Jernigan and Chris Anderson might have to take over that role. Southward is a small, speedy back who could be a threat for 1,000 yards with a bit more work, but the key to the season will be if Taylor and Exley can combine for at least 600 yards to take the pressure off the rest of the offense.
Unit Rating: 5.5
Job One: Replace Jerrel Jernigan. The do-it-all playmaker led the team with 84 catches and ran for 322 yards and three touchdowns. However, considering his speed and talent, he only average 9.8 yards per catch, so while it’s asking a lot for sophomore
Khary Franklin to be the same sort of playmaker at the H, he might add a bit more pop. Franklin is only 5-7, and 165 pounds, but the former high school quarterback can move and can be used in a variety of ways. Not just a receiver, he’ll get plenty of carries on reverses and even out of the backfield. He only caught two passes for -3 yards last season, and he was buried on the post-spring depth chart, but the potential is there to become a factor.
6-2, 186-pound senior Eric Thomas will get a long look at the Y after making nine catches for 120 yards and a score, and now he’s due to finally live up to his immense promise. A top recruit for the program, Thomas has yet to make a major impact, and he’ll get pushed by sophomore
Sam Haskins, a 6-4, 214-pound big target who has the frame to be a physical option on the inside. They’re both keeping the seat warm before
Brett Moncrief is back from a foot problem. The 6-3, 205-pound Moncrief, the son of former NBA star, Sidney Moncrief, and originally an Oklahoma State Cowboy, has the size and the talent to be a star, but he has to get healthy and he has to do far more after catching a disappointing 16 passes for 214 yards and two scores.
5-11, 169-pound junior Chip Reeves will get the first shot at taking over for Tebiarus Gill at the X, and while he doesn’t have Gill’s size, he has the blazing speed to potentially make more deep plays on the outside. A home run hitter, he averaged 17.2 yards per grab catching 30 passes for 515 yards and five scores with three coming in the final two regular season games. He’ll be the deep threat early on, while sophomore
Felton Payton will get every shot at more playing time on the outside and in four wide sets.
Ready to make an instant splash in place of Jernigan is
Corey Johnson, a 6-1, 185-pound JUCO transfer who has a tremendous burst and great speed to go along with his size. He might not be Jernigan as far as an all-around playmaker, but he could quickly be the team's most dangerous receiver.
Replacing third-leading receiver Jason Bruce at the Z will be Jamel Johnson, a 6-2, 202-pound sophomore with good size and tremendous upside after catching 23 passes for 258 yards and three scores. Steady throughout the year, he wasn’t necessarily explosive, but he was good for 2-to-4 grabs per game.
Gone is long-time veteran tight end Donnie Crosby, and in steps Gavin Ellis, a big 6-6, 239-pound up-and-comer who led the state of Alabama as a senior with 82 catches for 1,263 yards. While he can block a little bit, he’s a receiver who’ll be used as a key go-to target who might be one of the team’s breakout performers. He has the size and the tools to be an all-star. Pushing for tight end time will be sophomore
Jim Teknipp, a former UCF Knight who has nice hands and was a big-time recruit out of high school. He’s not as big as Ellis, but he’s a talent who’ll get his chances.
Watch Out For … the tight ends. Donnie Crosby was built more like a fullback and he only caught three passes. Gavin Ellis and Jim Teknipp are real, live targets who should add another dimension to the passing game. Consider it a shock if they don’t combine for around 40 grabs.
Strength: Options. This is a versatile group with several good pieces to play around with. While there might not be a Jerrel Jernigan, players like Franklin, Johnson, and Moncrief, when healthy, can work inside and out.
Weakness: A sure-thing, No. 1 target. There are several good players waiting to break out, most notably Franklin and Reeves, but the top three receivers from last year are gone, taking away 183 catches and 17 of the team’s 33 touchdown catches.
Outlook: As always, Troy is loaded with good, talented receivers, but it might take a little bit to find the right starting combination. There’s size, speed, and versatility, and this year there’s going to be more from the tight ends to add to the mix. There might not be any one signature star like a Jernigan, but there will be several players contributing with everyone getting their chances. Don’t expect the production to take much of a drop, if any.
Unit Rating: 5.5
The 2011 Troy line loses some key parts, but it welcomes back 6-4, 329-pound Second Team All-Sun Belt left tackle
James Brown. He cut down on his mistakes, worked off some of his bad weight, and he became a stronger pass protector. While he might not be the best athlete around, he’s a mauler who’ll be the anchor of the line and the one the attack works behind. The former JUCO all-star was a superstar high school prospect out of Mississippi, where he won the state high school weightlifting title in 2005, but his potential NFL future is at guard.
The key to the line will be replacing center Tyler Clark, a First Team All-Sun Belt star who took over for another all-star, Danny Franks. Junior
Kyle Wilborn is one of two returning starters, but he was out of spring ball after recovering from off-season surgery. The surprise star of the 2009 season with 12 starts at right tackle, he moved inside to left guard and became a 6-4, 311-pound blaster for the ground game. He’s a good leader who can be moved back to tackle if needed, but he’ll get a shot at center and could start at left guard again depending on how the line shakes out. In the meantime,
Zach Swindall is a short, squatty 6-1, 282-pound career reserve who knows what he’s doing, but he doesn’t have the talent Clark or Franks.
If Wilborn moves to center full-time, 6-3, 269-pound sophomore Jay Stansberry will be a relatively light, but athletic option at left guard, but he has to get healthy after getting banged up this offseason, while bigger 6-5, 309-pound sophomore Cody Jenkins will push for time. The right guard job, vacated by long-time starter Tyler Graves, will be a battle between sophomore Jacob Creech, a promising 6-3, 292-pound run blocker and 6-0, 283-pound sophomore
6-4, 315-pound redshirt freshman Terrence Jones has the talent and potential to be a four-year starter at right tackle. He’s tall, has decent feet, and has the athleticism to be a rock of a pass protector. 6-6, 315-pound junior
DeMarkus Underwood got his weight down big time after checking in at close to 350 pounds coming in from NE Mississippi CC. He’s a big hitter who might end up moving inside.
Watch Out For … Wilborn. Versatile enough to play any spot on the line, when he gets healthy, where he ends up will be the key to the puzzle up front. Is he the next great Troy center? Will he go back to left guard? A lot of it will depend on who steps up at the other openings up front.
Strength: Big bodies on the outside. Troy hasn’t always been a rock in pass protection, but considering how much the offense throws the ball, the line hasn’t been bad. Brown is an all-star who’ll anchor the line at left tackle, and Jones is a promising, rising star at right tackle.
Weakness: New starters inside. The guards were a concern last year and all turned out to be fine. However, this year the newcomers to the positions are a bit smallish and aren’t built to bury people. Everything will be fine on the inside, but the pieces to the puzzle might not all be in place until just before the start off the season.
Outlook: The line made a great comeback and was one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 Sun Belt season. However, three key starters are gone and there’s going to be plenty of shuffling before the final starting lineup is in place. Don’t expect the front five to be dominant against the speed rushing lines, but it’ll pound a bit when it needs to for the running game. It’ll be a good line, but it needs Jones and Creech to grow up in a hurry to be great.
Unit Rating: 5
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