Troy Preview 2006 - Defense
Posted Aug 8, 2006

Troy Trojans Preview 2006 - Troy Trojan Defense

What you need to know ... Troy has consistently cranked out solid defenses and should be among the best in the Sun Belt once again despite some major production losses. The biggest question mark early on will be at linebacker after losing Bernard Davis and Leverne Johnson. Marcus Richardson is an all-star caliber playmaker on the strongside, but he'll need help. The safeties and ends should be tremendous, and there's surprisingly good depth just about everywhere for a team that needs to replace seven starters.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Sherrod Martin, 78
Sacks: Several at 1
Interceptions: Sherrod Martin, 2

Star of the defense: Junior FS Sherrod Martin
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman LB Joe Baker
Unsung star on the rise: Junior DE Chris Bradwell
Best pro prospect: Bradwell
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Martin, 2) DE Kenny Mainor, 3) LB Marcus Richardson
Strength of the defense: Safety
Weakness of the defense:
Proven linebackers, second cornerback

Defensive Line
Troy will be sensational up front again despite losing three starters. Expect the new front four to be far better at getting to the quarterback with Kenny Mainor a seasoned sophomore and the ridiculously strong Shawn Todd appearing to be ready for a big season. Junior Tagovailoa and former Florida State starter Chris Bradwell will each find starting time somewhere. The tackles aren't huge, but they're promising with Steve McLendon, Franklin Lloyd and Baron Lemar all good enough to hold their own while the ends do their thing.
The key to the unit: Kenny Mainor and Junior Tagovailoa have to live up to their potential on the ends. Depth has to be developed in the middle.

Defensive Line Rating: 5.5

Projected Starters
- DE Kenny Mainor, Soph. - 43 tackles, 3 TFL, 14 quarterback hurries
The bar has been set high for Mainor after being hailed as the team's newest superstar pass rusher in the mold of Demarcus Ware. He didn't exactly dominate like Ware, but it was still a strong redshirt freshman season starting every game on the left side. He's a tall, thin 6-4, 216 pounds with phenomenal speed on the edge.

- DT Steve McLendon, Jr. - 16 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 quarterback hurries
McLendon came on in his sophomore season turning into a good backup with good pass rushing skills. He's a good athlete with nice size at 6-4 and 280 pounds taking over David Tremble's starting spot.

- NT
Franklin Lloyd, Sr. - 31 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL, 2 quarterback hurries
While Lloyd never materialized as the starter he was expected to be on the nose thanks to the emergence of Torre Lankford, he did have his second straight strong season in the rotation. He's a short, stocky 6-0 and 283 pounds with the experience to be a key starter now that the job is his.

- DE Shawn Todd, Jr. - 15 tackles, 2 TFL, 4 quarterback hurries
Pound for pound, the 6-3, 245-pound junior might be the team's strongest player. He has tackle strength in the body of an end, and now it all has to come together as the new starter in plays of Larry Brown on the right side.

Top Backups
- DT Baron Lemar, Jr. - 7 tackles, 1 TFL
The former JUCO transfer didn't make much of an impact last year, but he's expected to push hard for a starting spot at one of the tackle spots. He's an aggressive 6-5 and 273 pounds starting out rotating with Steve McLendon.
- DE Junior Tagovailoa, Jr. - 4 tackles, 1 quarterback hurry
A superstar JUCO recruit last year, Tagovailoa got hurt in spring ball and was never right all season long seeing time in only eight games. He came up with 36 tackles for loss in one season at Coffeyville CC and should be a major factor behind Shawn Todd at right end.
- DE Chris Bradwell, Jr.
Is he the team's new defensive star? The former starter at Florida State is 6-5 and 280 pounds with tremendous pass rushing skills. He spent last year at NE Mississippi CC where he made 70 tackles and 10 TFL.

The loss of the leadership and production of Bernard Davis and Leverne Johnson will hurt right away, and then all the new talent will shine through. Marcus Richardson is on the verge of big things on the strongside, while there are several very quick, very small options at the other two spots. Redshirt freshman Joe Baker will get the first look in the middle and Josh Maxwell appears ready for a big year on the weakside, but they'll have to battle to keep their jobs.
The key to the unit: The overall speed and quickness needs to overcome the lack of size against bigger running teams. A good rotation will be needed to keep all the defensive back-sized linebackers fresh.
Linebacker Rating: 5

Projected Starters
- Marcus Richardson, Jr. - 59 tackles, 7 TFL, 5 broken up passes, 6 quarterback hurries
Richardson came up with a nice sophomore season finishing sixth on the team in tackles. The former defensive back more than held his own as an undersized strongside linebacker, but now the 6-3, 214-pound speedster should be on the verge of All-Sun Belt honors. He's one of the league's best linebackers against the pass and there are few better all-around athletes with 4.4 speed and great leaping ability.

- Joe Baker, RFr.
It'll be up to the 210-pound Baker to replace Leverne Johnson in the middle. He's not big, but he's a great hitter with enough range to make tackles all over the field if he can play in space.

- Josh Maxwell, Jr. - 26 tackles, 2 quarterback hurries
A part-time starter in the middle, it'll be up to the 204-pound junior to take over for heart-and-soul defender Bernard Davis on the weakside. He has cornerback athleticism and should be one of the team's leading tacklers.

Top Backups
- Romanique Lewis, Jr. - 17 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL
Lewis ended up losing out to Marcus Richardson in the battle for the starting job on the strongside last year, but now he'll be a key player on the weakside adding more size than Josh Maxwell. He's one of the biggest hitters in the corps.
- Ryan Babb, Sr. - 5 tackles
The former running back spent last year on special teams and now will see time on the strongside behind Marcus Richardson. The former Alabama transfer is only 5-11 and 198 pounds, but he can move.
- Andre Morgan, Sr. - 14 tackles, 2.5 TFL
The former safety turned in a nice season as a backup linebacker. He's a good hitting 204 pounds with good range in the middle.

Defensive Backs
This could be a problem early on with star corners Adrian Ghent and Johnny Faulk needing to be replaced. Fortunately, safeties Sherrod Martin and Brannon Condren are All-Sun Belt caliber talents who'll be good enough to carry things for a while. Leodis McKelvin is an experienced corner who has to prove he can handle the full-time role, while JUCO transfer Derrius Jackson will be a key reserve if Henry Chubb struggles.
The key to the unit: Pick off more passes. The Trojans did a great job against the pass last season, but they only came up with five interceptions.
Secondary Rating: 5.5

Projected Starters
- CB Leodis McKelvin, Jr. - 30 tackles, 1 sack, 5 broken up passes
McKelvin takes over on the left side after spending last year as a backup and a nickel back. He has the experience and more than enough speed to become a top coverman, but he'll have to prove he can be as steady as Adrian Ghent was.

- FS Sherrod Martin, Jr. - 78 tackles, 1 sack, 5 TFL, 2 interceptions, 11 broken up passes
Versatile enough to play either safety position, Martin is back for what should be an All-Sun Belt season with 146 career tackles and 16 broken up passes under his belt. He was all over the field last season playing like an experienced, savvy defender, and now he needs to be the leader and tone setter with so many new starters to the defense.

- SS Brannon Condren, Sr. - 58 tackles, 2 TFL, 5 broken up passes
Finally able to get through a season healthy, Condren became one of the team's top tacklers as well as a good special teamer. He's a sure tackler who plays like a free safety when the ball is in the air.

- CB Henry Chubb, Soph. - 10 tackles, 1 broken up pass
The top high school quarterback appears to have made the successful transition to corner after spending last year as a good reserve. He'll take over on the right side for all-star Johnny Faulk; there won't be a huge drop in overall production.

Top Backups
- CB Derrius Jackson, Jr.
At 6-1 and 180 pounds, the JUCO transfer is one of the team's bigger corners. He spent last year at Chabot Community College where he made 60 tackles and eight interceptions last season. He can be a kick returner if needed.
- FS Tavares Williams, Soph. - 11 tackles
A true free safety, the 6-1, 190-pound Williams is a phenomenal athlete who'll see more time as a nickel back and behind Sherrod Martin. He might be groomed to also play a little strong safety.
- SS Terence Moore, Soph. - 8 tackles
Moore saw a little time as a true freshman and now will be a key backup behind Brannon Condren at strong safety. He's 6-3 and 195 pounds with room to get a little bigger.

Special Teams
The Trojan special teams will be among the best in the Sun Belt if new starting punter Jason Wright can be above average. Greg Whibbs is an excellent field goal kicker inside 40 yards. Leodis McKelvin averaged 12.6 yards per punt return and and 25.8 yards per kick return and will see time doing both again. JUCO transfer Elbert Mack will start out returning kicks.
The key to the unit: More range from PK Greg Whibbs and better play from the coverage teams after allowing 22.5 yards per kickoff and ten yards per punt return.
Special Teams Rating: 8

Projected Starters
- PK Greg Whibbs, Jr. - 11-20 FGs, 19-19 extra points
One of the nation's better field goal kickers, Whibbs followed up a 12-of-14 season with a decent campaign. Three of his kicks were blocked and he only went one of six from beyond 40 yards, but he should be as reliable as they come with two years of experience.
- P Jason Wright, Sr.
Wright has to replace all-star Thomas Olmsted, who averaged 40.4 yards per kick last season and put 22 inside the 20. Wright has a stronger leg than Olmsted, but he has to prove he can be as consistent.

Related Stories
Troy Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
Troy Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
Troy Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 8, 2006

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