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Troy DE Jonathan Massaquoi
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Troy Trojans
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Is it time for Troy to lobby harder for bigger and better things? Is it time to knock on the Conference USA doors and ask to see what needs to be done to take another step forward after being a D-II program not all that long ago? At least on the field, it's time.
Head coach: Larry Blakeney
21st year: 161-82-1
Off: 23, Def. 23, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best Troy Players
1. DE Jonathan Massaquoi, Jr.
2. QB Corey Robinson, Soph.
3. LB Xavier Lamb, Sr.
4. NT Emmanuel Dudley, Sr.
5. OT James Brown, Sr.
6. CB Jimmy Anderson, Sr.
7. OG Kyle Wilborn, Jr.
8. P Will Goggans, Sr.
9. LB Kanoris Davis, Jr.
10. RB Shawn Southward, Jr.
Sept. 3 at Clemson
Sept. 10 OPEN DATE
Sept. 17 at Arkansas
Sept. 24 Middle Tenn.
Oct. 1 UAB
Oct. 8 at Louisiana
Oct. 15 ULM
Oct. 25 at FIU
Nov. 5 at Navy
Nov. 12 North Texas
Nov. 19 Florida Atlantic
Nov. 26 at WKU
Dec. 3 at Arkansas State
Of course, moving conferences and being considered for inclusion in the higher profile leagues requires more than just putting up a decent record. Is the fan base there? (That's a problem with an average attendance of under 19,000 per game, but UAB also averaged around 18,000.) Will it improve the conference as a whole? Will it make the product better? What about the academic side of things? Troy might not take Conference USA, or the WAC, or any other league, to another level, but it would certainly hold its own football-wise.
With five straight seasons of eight wins or more, a good performance in a loss to Oklahoma State last year, and with four bowl appearances – with two wins – in five seasons, the Trojans have been the Sun Belt's bright, shining star. However, it hasn't exactly translated into a national buzz in any way, and there's still a long way to go before the program can be the Boise State of the south.
At some point, Troy has to come up with the really big, really splashy win on the way to a monster season. Boise State became Boise State by winning ten games a year, every year, and while Troy's win over Missouri in 2004 might have seemed groundbreaking at the time, it wasn't. Losing to New Mexico State the week after didn't exactly help the cause.
This year's team will be explosive again offensively with QB Corey Robinson leading the high-powered attack. Several key players are gone, though, including do-it-all playmaker Jerrel Jernigan and three starters on the line, but the backfield is loaded with athletic, talented options, and James Brown and Kyle Wilborn are two terrific linemen to work around.
The defense that's been so inconsistent and so shaky at times should be the best it's been in years with Jonathan Massaquoi leading one of the nation's best pass rushes. Xavier Lamb and Kanorris Davis lead a loaded linebacking corps, and the secondary should be strong with the addition of Brynden Trawick at safety and with both starting corners. Throw in a strong kicking game with PK Michael Taylor and P Will Goggins among the best in the Sun Belt, and the Trojans have the pieces in place to come up with another big season and another bowl game.
If nothing else, Troy will still be a big fish in the Sun Belt pond. That's not a bad place to be.
What to watch for on offense: More of an emphasis on the ground game. The Trojans will always bomb away, and Corey Robinson is one of the Sun Belt's best young quarterbacks and one of the nation's most dangerous statistical stars, but this year the Trojans should work more with the ground game. Losing the top three receivers, including Jerrel Jernigan, is part of the reason for more balance, but having a group of backs who can crank out big plays is a bigger factor. Shawn Southward is the starter and he should average over five yards per carry, but he won't have to handle all the work with Chris Anderson a dangerous scatback who can catch and D.J. Taylor a nice option to use on the inside.
What to watch for on defense: A secondary. Finally. Even though the Trojans finished fifth in the nation in sacks and 15th in tackles for loss, the pass defense didn't get the job done allowing a Sun Belt-worst 245 yards per game. That's hard to do in a league that couldn't throw the ball. Now the secondary looks terrific with experience on the outside and depth on the inside, with Jimmie Anderson and Davis Whitmore two decent corners with 39 combined starts, and with strong safety Bryden Trawick coming in from the JUCO ranks by way of Michigan State. Fellow JUCO transfer Angelo Hadley is a strong-looking free safety while Cameron Hudson, Barry Valin, and Ladarrius Madden are veterans who know what they're doing.
The team will be far better if … the running game produces on a regular basis. It's been easy for the Troy offense to bomb away over the years, and it's hard to argue with nearly 4,000 yards of passing production. However, the Trojans were better with a more balanced attack and were a near-lock to win when the ground attack was rumbling. Troy ran for 155 yards or more seven times going 7-0 in those games. When under 155, Troy went 1-5 with the lone win coming in a strange game against Louisiana-Lafayette. Take it back a year, and Troy went 6-1 when running for 155 yards or more with the one loss coming in the wild shootout against Central Michigan.
The schedule: The Trojans will get their chance in the spotlight early on with two road payday games against Clemson and Arkansas, and then it's time to hit the Sun Belt ground running with a showdown against Middle Tennessee. Going to UAB is always interesting, at least it was last year, and then it's back into conference play with the meat of the schedule kicking in going to Louisiana and FIU with a home date against ULM sandwiched in between. There's a week off before the Navy game, but that means Troy only plays at home once from October 1st until mid-November, with two home dates against North Texas and Florida Atlantic before closing out on the road at WKU and Arkansas State.
Best offensive player: Sophomore QB Corey Robinson. It was asking a lot to replace Levi Brown, who cranked the Troy offense up a few notches, but Robinson did it. As a freshman, Robinson threw well as he kept the passing production rolling, but he threw 15 picks and made too many rookie mistakes. But he got better as the season went on and he got hot in the end, and now he'll make a push to be the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year. He might not be that big and he doesn't have a cannon, but the former Kentucky Mr. Football will put up the numbers.
Best defensive player: Junior DE Jonathan Massaquoi. The Trojans were looking for more of a pass rush, and it got it with the lightning fast Massaquoi turning into the exact type of speed rusher the defensive front was hoping for. The former JUCO star came up with 13.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss as the Sun Belt's most disruptive force, and now the pressure is on to do it again, and maybe add a bit more weight to his 6-2, 250-pound frame, to be considered another Dwight Freeney at the next level.
Key player to a successful season: Senior DE John Robles. Massaquoi was the team's top pass rushing star last year, but Mario Addison had his moments, too, cranking out 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. Now it'll be up to Robles, a former star at Coffeyville CC who has the speed and the quickness to be a star on the end. He came up with just 16 tackles and two tackles for loss last year, but all the tools are there to blow up with all the attention paid to Massaquoi on the other side.
The season will be a success if … Troy wins the Sun Belt title. Winning ten games would be a major accomplishment, and the schedule it light enough to be able to do it, but all that really matters is coming up with titles, and the Trojans should be good enough to do it. They have to get hot in November and they can't give away games against UAB and Middle Tennessee at home, but the talent is in place to have another winning season and get back to another bowl game.
Key game: Oct. 25 at FIU. North Texas used to rule the Sun Belt roost, and then Middle Tennessee became the key game, and for a while, Florida Atlantic looked ready to shine. Now it's Florida International, the defending champ who hung 52 on Troy last year in a blowout. Troy has put up 33 points or more in each of the last four games in the series, and now it has to come up with a big win on the road going into an off week and a date with Navy. This might be for the Sun Belt title.
2010 Fun Stats:
- Penalties: Troy 110 for 957 yards – Opponents 97 for 848 yards
- Troy 2nd Quarter Scoring: 161 – Troy 3rd Quarter Scoring: 67
- Fourth Down Conversions: Opponents 11-of-24 (46%) – Troy 2-of-13 (15%)
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