2013 Troy Preview – Defense

Posted May 19, 2013

CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Troy Trojan Defense

Troy Trojans

Preview 2013 - Defense

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What You Need To Know: With one of the worst defenses in the nation over the last few years, and without enough production against most offenses with a pulse, something had to change. Defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt is back after working with Gene Chizik at Auburn, and he has lots and lots of work to do. The pass rush was non-existent, the secondary was miserable and there weren't enough takeaways. With more of a 4-2-5 alignment now, the hope will be for the secondary go come up with more big plays, but the front four has to start doing its job by getting to the quarterback. There's a major overhaul across the board, but there's hope with Miami transfer Keion Payne taking over one corner spot and big tackler Mark Wilson due for a huge season at middle linebacker.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Chris Pickett, 61
Sacks: Tyler Roberts, Marty Stadom 2
Interceptions: None

Star of the defense: Senior S Chris Pickett
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DE Marty Stadom
Unsung star on the rise: Junior CB Keion Payne
Best pro prospect: Junior LB Mark Wilson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Wilson, 2) Pickett, 3) Payne
Strength of the defense: Corners, Linebacker Rotation
Weakness of the defense: Pass Rush, Takeaways

Defensive Line

What happened to the Troy pass rush? A total disaster last season, the Trojans needs more from the line and needs senior Marty Stadom to start doing more after coming up with 21 tackles with two sacks and four tackles for loss. The 6-1, 237-pounder started out his career at Southwest Mississippi CC where he was fine at getting into the backfield, but not unstoppable. Troy needs him to be unstoppable.

Back on the other side after working as a hybrid type at the Bandit, and now as more of a pure defensive end, is sophomore Tyler Roberts, a 6-1, 215-pound speedster who plays bigger than his size and has the potential to be a devastating pass rusher with a little more time. He came up with 35 tackles with two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. Adding more size behind him is 6-2, 230-pound sophomore Jadarius Garner, a good option at either linebacker or defensive end once he gets a little time.

6-1, 279-pound senior Shermain TeArt will go from being a decent backup tackle to nose tackle, anchoring the inside with good size and a nice base. He only saw time in five games, but when healthy he was a factor making nine tackles with two tackles for loss. 6-3, 310-pound Xavier Melton is a much bigger body for the interior. The former JUCO transfer from Butler CC, and one-time Purdue Boilermaker, is a decent interior pass rusher, but he only came up with a sack and seven tackles as a reserve.

Senior Antonio Gillespie came in from Coffeyville CC and now needs to play big. The 6-2, 276-pounder needs to be a rock against the run, but the more he can get behind the line, the better. 6-4, 270-pound senior Aaron Williams is a big veteran backup making eight stops. He'll be a bigger part of the rotation.

Watch Out For … Deon Lee, a backup end behind Stadom with the upside to become a dangerous specialist. The 6-3, 233-pound sophomore is a big hitter with a good burst off the ball, but he only saw a little time on special teams making two tackles.
Strength: Quickness. The Trojans have good athletes up front, but they have to be able to make something happen with them. There's enough talent to find a way to get into the backfield on a regular basis, however …
Weakness: Proven pass rush. Troy was shockingly awful last year at making things happen up front with a paltry 13 sacks and 50 tackles for loss. There wasn't nearly enough disruption to help out the secondary.
Outlook: On the plus side, most of the key starters from last season have to be replaced. With little production and not enough gamechangers, it was an awful year for the front four. There's hope for a quick turnaround, and at the very least, things can't be any worse.
Unit Rating: 4.5


As the only returning starter to the linebacking corps, 6-0, 234-pound junior Mark Wilson needs to be the leader and steadying force moving from the weakside to Brannon Bryan's spot in the middle. Wilson is a good hitter making 44 tackles with two tackles for loss, but he didn't do much in the backfield and wasn't good enough in pass coverage. With his move to the inside, backup Wayland Coleman-Dancer will take over on the weakside. At 6-0 and 203 pounds he's a short, compact defender with lower level experience playing at Mississippi Delta CC before joining the Trojans.

Redshirt freshman Terris Lewis is a safety-sized 6-3, 195-pound linebacker who can hit. Fast, he has great range and can get to anything on the weakside working behind Coleman-Dancer. 6-1, 238-pound junior Eli Canton came in from Northeast Mississippi CCC where he was a good factor at getting behind the line. A good-sized man for the middle, he made nine tackles as a backup and now will push Wilson for time.

Watch Out For … Zach Moore. The Trojans didn't come up with a slew of top talents on defense, but Moore could turn out to be a key statistical star in the next few years. He's not huge at 6-1 and 200 pounds, but he can move and he can work as a decent pass defender.
Strength: The rotation. The Trojans only use two linebackers on a regular basis and have good size in the middle with Wilson and Canton bigger than the team's defensive ends. There shouldn't be a problem holding up on the inside, while Coleman-Dancer and Lewis should see plenty of time on the weakside.
Weakness: Disruptive plays. The linebackers didn't do nearly enough last year to come up with picks, sacks, fumbles, or much of anything to change games. The job will be to hold up against the run, and this group hasn't proven it can do it.
Outlook: There's enough of a rotation and enough options to form a good twosome, but it might be a stretch to come up with a starting three on a regular basis if the defense wants to move to a 4-3. Wilson will be a factor, but the rest of the linebackers still have to prove themselves.
Unit Rating: 4.5


The secondary needs to be far more effective, and it starts with replacing top all-around playmaker Brynden Trawick. Senior Camren Hudsen will try to do it at free safety after serving as the understudy, making 50 tackles with a sack with two recovered fumbles. A good hitter who saw enough time to be one of the team's top tacklers, the 5-10, 195-pounder gets all over the field and should do more with a bigger role.

Back at strong safety is senior Chris Pickett, an aptly named defensive back who has seen time over the course of his career at both corner and safety. A great athlete with good deep speed, he finished fourth on the team with 61 tackles, but he failed to get a pick and only broke up two passes. However, he led the team with three forced fumbles. Joining the safety fun as a hybrid of outside linebacker and nickel defender is junior Jeremy Spikner, a transfer from Northeast Mississippi CC with corner skills and good hitting ability. While he's only 5-10 and 190 pounds, he packs a pop.

Two new corners are taking over starting roles. Sophomore Chris Davis isn't all that big at 5-8 and 161 pounds, but he needs to use his athleticism and ball-hawking ability. Strong for his size, he made 18 tackles to go along with five broken up passes. He'll take over on the left side, while 5-10, 175-pound junior Keion Payne should quickly be the star of the secondary. A top prospect out of high school, he started out his career at Miami before going to Hutchinson CC.. All the tools are there to be special, but now he has to actually prove himself.

Watch Out For … Montavious Smoke. Along with the terrific name, the corner prospect has 4.4 speed and 6-1, 182-pound size. Not just an athletic defender, he could also be an emergency punter.
Strength: Corner. Davis is a promising prospect who should shine with a bigger role, while Payne is a terrific get for the program who needs to put it all together to play up to his tools. With a little help from a bad pass rush, the corners should turn into stars.
Weakness: Interceptions. Brynden Trawick came up with three interceptions, but now he's gone. All six picks from last season have graduated, and now this new group has to find a way to come up with big plays.
Outlook: After getting burned for 26 touchdown passes and having problems against the better quarterbacks, getting bombed on by Tennessee for 530 yards and Arkansas State for 369 yards, it's going to take a little while before things get better. Troy's secondary has had plenty of problems over the years, and things aren't going to change unless there's more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Special Teams

Senior Will Scott is coming off a fantastic season hitting 17-of-21 field goals including a 52-yard bomb against Florida Atlantic. After hitting his last 12 attempts, he's coming into the season red hot and should be on the All-America short list. Also the punter, he did a nice job averaging 41 yards per kick and putting 18 inside the 20. Accurate with the ability to hang it high, he can do a little of everything right to work well with the coverage teams.

The returners have to be far better. Justin Albert only averaged 7.8 yards per punt return. Sophomore Bryan Holmes has the quickness to do a bit more, while Chandler Worthy needs to help pick up the slack on kickoff returns after averaging 22 yards per kick – no one else averaged more than 16.7 yards per try.

Watch Out For … Holmes on punt returns. Albert busted off one big run, but that was about it. Holmes needs to bring more consistency.
Strength: Scott. An all-around weapon, he could be an all-star at either punter or placekicker. A do-it-all kicker, he's one of the team's most valuable players, and it shows with a punt coverage team that allowed just two years per punt return and19.6 yards per kickoff return.
Weakness: Kickoff returns. It wasn't Worthy's fault, but the others who gave it a try couldn't do much, bringing down the overall average to just 18.5 yards per try.
Outlook: As long as Scott is being Scott, the special teams will be a plus. The coverage teams are among the best in the country, and the returners will be a bit better. Scott is the key.
Unit Rating: 7

- 2013 Troy Preview | 2013 Troy Offense
- 2013 Troy Defense | 2013 Troy Depth Chart