CFN Preview 2013 - Troy Trojans
Troy QB Corey Robinson
Troy QB Corey Robinson
Posted May 19, 2013 2013 Preview - Troy Trojans

Troy Trojans

Preview 2013

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Larry Blakeney
23rd year: 169-98-1 
Ten Best Troy Players
1. QB Corey Robinson, Sr.
2. WR Eric Thomas, Sr.
3. OT Terrence Jones, Jr.
4. PK/P Will Scott, Sr.
5. QB Deon Anthony, Sr.
6. SS Chris Pickett, Sr.
7. CB Keion Payne, Jr.
8. LB Mark Wilson, Jr.
9. WR Chandler Worthy, Jr.
10. CB Chris Davis, Soph.
2013 Schedule
8/31 UAB
9/7 Savannah State
9/12 at Arkansas State
9/21 at Mississippi State
9/28 at Duke
10/5 South Alabama
10/12 at Georgia State
10/26 at WKU
11/2 ULM
11/7 at Louisiana
11/16 at Ole Miss
11/29 Texas State
2012 was an improvement, but for a program that got used to going to bowl games and winning titles. 5-7 with a total collapse late makes this a key season.

Being great hasn't mattered much in terms of moving out of the Sun Belt – North Texas and Florida Atlantic are proof of that – but it wouldn't hurt if Troy could get back to the days of being the league's anchor and star. That might not happen this season with so much turnover on a woeful defense and so many concerns on offense, but the 1-4 record over the finishing kick with an inexcusable loss to FAU, and without any real signature wins, showed that head coach Larry Blakeney couldn't quite work his magic well enough after a 3-9 2011.

Blakeney isn't afraid to change things up when needed, but this season he has to change up entire units. The running backs have done next to nothing so far in their careers – with Shawn Southward doing almost everything last season – and the offensive line has to undergo a wholesale change. In all, seven starters are gone from one of the nation's top offenses.

The woeful defense still has miles to go before it's better. The secondary has to hope some new parts can shine, while almost all the major producers from last year are done. Considering there wasn't any pass rush and not enough takeaways, Troy has to get better and rebuild all at the same time. With eight games decided by a touchdown or less, losing five of them, it might just take a fortunate break here and there to go from 5-7 to 7-5 – or better.

Blakeney and the program are too good to expect two straight losing seasons to be a trend, but three in a row might mean things are stuck in a rut.

What to watch for on offense: An interesting quarterback rotation. Corey Robinson is the veteran passer who carried the attack for the last few years, throwing for over 3,000 yards last season, but it was JUCO transfer Deon Anthony who provided more of a spark, finishing second on the team in rushing while completing 70% of his throws. Robinson is still too good and too experienced to sit, and Anthony is too good and too dangerous to not get on the field, so there could be a bit of a rotation from time to time to keep defenses guessing. The coaching staff will go with the hot hand – or legs.

What to watch for on defense: Any and all attempts to be more active. Troy has athletes and it has just enough talent to be far better than it's been defensively over the years. Last season the problem was a lack of pass rush and failure to come up with big plays and key stops. The team has to find a way to get to the quarterback on a regular basis, and going to a true 4-2-5 – rather than playing around with a hybrid Bandit up front and strongside/nickel defender. The hope will be for something to happen to the offense doesn't have to do all the work.

The team will be far better if … the secondary can take the ball away. It all ties together. Troy couldn't come up with sacks, and the secondary didn't have any time to work, and the offense rarely enjoyed decent field position to work with. The offense wasn't completely miserable when it came to giving it up, but the defense couldn't pick off passes with just six on the year. Fumble recoveries weren't the problem with 14 on the season, but quarterbacks got way too cozy in the pocket and offenses had no issues throwing.

The schedule: Beating UAB in the opener could be the key to a winning record. There are some must-win, relatively easy games against Savannah State and South Alabama to go along with a road game at Georgia State, but the biggest Sun Belt dates – Arkansas State, WKU and Louisiana – are all on the road. Throw in the non-conference road games at Mississippi State, Duke and Ole Miss, and it's going to be hard to get on any sort of a run.

Best offensive player: Senior QB Corey Robinson. While he'll throw for over 3,000 yards without a question, there's a chance he might not be the best quarterback on the team. Deon Anthony is a more dangerous option with his dual-threat skills and accurate arm, but it's still Robinson's offense to run. If the defense is as porous as it's been in recent seasons, Robinson will be in charge of bombing away.

Best defensive player: Senior S Chris Pickett. It could quickly be Miami transfer Keion Payne at one corner, and Mark Wilson will likely lead the team in tackles, but it's Pickett who does a little of everything for the run defense, serving as a safety valve. He needs to do far more when the ball is in the air, but on a thin defense that's undergoing an overhaul, he'll be a key leader.

Key player to a successful season: Senior DE Marty Stadom. Forget about Troy doing anything this season if there isn't more of a pass rush. Game after game will be a shootout, and teams are going to try bombing away time and again to keep up the pace. Stadom and Tyler Roberts have to start hitting quarterbacks to make up for the utter disaster that was last year's defensive front.

The season will be a success if … The Trojans win the Sun Belt title. It might be an almost impossible task with the three biggest games of the year on the road at Arkansas State, Western Kentucky and Louisiana, but Troy has the firepower to stay with anyone on the schedule including Mississippi State and Ole Miss. If the defense can do a little tweaking, a Sun Belt title is a real possibility.

Key game: Sept. 12 at Arkansas State. With over 1,100 yards of total offense, it was one of the wildest games of the Sun Belt season with Troy quarterback combining to throw for 447 yards and Arkansas State's Ryan Aplin throwing for 369 in a 41-34 Trojan loss. This year, it's the Sun Belt opener for both teams, and it could be a make-or-break battle for the title. It should be another offensive shootout with a chance for the new ASU coaching staff to make a statement, or for Larry Blakeney to reestablish Troy as a major conference player.

2012 Fun Stats:
- 3rd Down Conversions: Troy 94-of-192 (49%) – Opponents 59-of-165 (36%)
- Onside Kicks: Troy 2-of-3 – Opponents 1-of-2
- Red Zone Scores: Opponents 39-of-43 (91%) – Troy 41-of-52 (79%)
- 2013 Troy Preview | 2013 Troy Offense
- 2013 Troy Defense | 2013 Troy Depth Chart