2008 CFN Troy Preview
Troy LB Boris Lee
Troy LB Boris Lee
Posted May 20, 2008

Troy has some major replacements to deal with on both sides of the ball, but the lines are the best in the Sun Belt and LB Boris Lee is a leader the defense can revolve around. Check out the CFN Troy Preview.

Troy Trojans

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Troy Preview | 2008 Troy Offense
- 2008 Troy Defense |
2008 Troy Depth Chart
2007 CFN Troy Preview | 2006 CFN Troy Preview 

While Florida Atlantic is getting all the Sun Belt love at the moment, partly because it's the reigning champion and partly because it's a rags to riches story, having been built from the ground up in just a few years, the monumental success of Troy is being swept aside. Head coach Larry Blakeney is going into his 18th year running the show, but Troy has only been among the D-I ranks for seven years.

Now the program is a bona fide non-BCS conference power. How many teams would love to be good enough to be competitive against Georgia and Arkansas? Who blasts Oklahoma State 41-23 in a game that wasn't even that close? The formula is working, and now the Trojans are among the favorites, along with FAU, to win the Sun Belt championship.

Head coach: Larry Blakeney
18th year: 136-68-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 29, Def. 23, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Troy Players
1. LB Boris Lee, Jr.
2. DE Kenny Mainor, Sr.
3. NT Dion Gales, Sr.
4. FS Sherrod Martin, Sr.
5. OT Dion Small, Sr.
6. OT Chris Jamison, Sr.
7. DE Brandon Lang, Jr.
8. NB Terence Moore, Sr.
9. C Danny Franks, Jr.
10. QB Jamie Hampton, Soph.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 28 at Middle Tennessee
Sept. 6 at LSU
Sept. 13 Alcorn State
Sept. 20 at Ohio State
Sept. 27 at Oklahoma State
Oct. 7 at Florida Atlantic
Oct. 18 FIU
Oct. 25 at North Texas
Nov. 1 at UL Monroe
Nov. 8 Western Kentucky
Nov. 22 UL Lafayette
Dec. 6 Arkansas State

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 8-

Sept. 1 at Arkansas L 46-26
Sept. 8 at Florida L 59-31
Sept. 14 Oklahoma St W 41-23
Sept. 22 at UL Laf. W 48-31
Sept. 29
UL Monroe W 24-7
Oct. 6 at FIU W 34-16
Oct. 20 North Texas W 45-7
Oct. 27 at Ark. St W 27-0
Nov. 3 at Georgia L 44-34
Nov. 10
at West. Ky W 21-17
Nov. 20 Middle Tenn W 45-7
Dec. 1 Florida Atlantic L 38-32

Basically, the program gets a solid base of decent players through recruiting, and then gets the big talents from the JUCO ranks and the cast-offs from other places. This year alone, playing prominently in the mix, will be RB Maurice Greer (who originally signed with Colorado), TE Kyle McClure (California), DE Brandon Lang (Georgia), CB Trevor Ford (Florida State), LB Carvel Jones (Mississippi State), and DT Tim Lamb (Auburn), along with a slew of key JUCO transfers to instantly fill some big holes.

The Sun Belt is a far cry better than it was a few years ago, but it's still uneven, and a team with just a few top-shelf players can do big things. Not only has Troy littered the all-conference teams with players, but it has had some big-time NFL talents like CB Leodis McKelvin, DE Osi Umenyiora, and DE Demarcus Ware. Recruits see this and want to be a part of it. It'll show this year.

The lines are the best in the league by a long shot, especially the offensive line, the secondary lost McKelvin and first-team All-Sun Belt corner Elbert Mack and is still the best in the league. How? The safeties are tremendous, and the corners got the upgrade from a few JUCO transfers. Again, the formula works.

Even with all the returning talent and all the promise on both sides of the ball, Florida Atlantic is still going to be the team to beat. But Troy will be right on the doorstep knocking ... again.

What to watch on offense … More of the same. With offensive coordinator Tony Franklin off to Auburn, and leading rusher, Kenny Cattouse, leading receiver, Gary Banks, and star quarterback Omar Haugabook gone, now would be the time to make a few changes. It's not going to happen. New coordinator Neal Brown worked for years under Franklin and is going to keep the train rolling. With a loaded line to give all the new skill starters time, there might not be much of a drop-off from last year's attack that led the Sun Belt.

What to watch on defense … The corners. Mack made eight interceptions and 51 tackles on his way to an all-star season. McKelvin made 60 tackles and two picks with nine broken up passes on his way to becoming the first round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills. Almost every college football team would struggle to find replacements for talents like those two, especially in the Sun Belt, but Troy might turn out to be fine. Projected starters Chris Bowens and Trevor Ford are going to be more than fine, while players like Michael Ricks, a star JUCO transfer, Jorrick Calvin, another JUCO transfer, and DeMarcus Robertson are all able to step in and play. Having safeties like Sherrod Martin, Terence Moore, and Tavares Williams will help the cause.

The team will be far better if … there's some semblance of a run defense. With a line as good as Troy's, there should be far more production against decent ground teams, and with some big changes at outside linebacker, stopping the run will be the key to the team's season. Six teams ran for 200 yards or more on the Trojans last year, and even with a great year against Sun Belt running games, this is the one potential weak spot against the top teams.

The Schedule: It's fricking insane. Troy has to play its first five games against D-I (or FBS) teams, and seven of the first eight games overall, on the road. Not only do the Trojans have to play both national title combatants, LSU and Ohio State, to go along with a date against an Oklahoma State team looking for revenge, but they have to face Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic on the road. On the plus side, the finishing kick could hardly be better with three home games and two off-weeks from November 8th and beyond. If Troy can just get through October with its head above water, it'll be fine.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Dion Small. With so much turnover at the skill positions, the line will have to pave the way and give the passing game time. Six players with starting experience return up front led by Small, a 6-2, 314-pound senior who came from the JUCO ranks and became a major factor in all areas. Even though he's huge, he has great feet against speed rushers, and he's strong enough to flatten everyone for the ground game.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Boris Lee. While he's not all that big, just 6-0 and 212 pounds, he's one of the toughest, most active defenders in the Sun Belt with 144 tackles over his first two seasons. He wasn't used as much as a pass rusher last year, after making six sacks as a freshman, but he remained a strong pass defender and did even more against the run. He's on the short list for the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Jamie Hampton. The Trojans have several decent options battling to replace Haugabook, but Hampton looked like the starter in spring ball and was consistent enough to be the one to beat out this fall. If he turns out to be the main man, he has to use his speed and athleticism to keep defenses on their heels, but his key will be to get the passing game going. The mistakes have to be kept to a minimum.

The season will be a success if ... Troy wins the Sun Belt title. It'll be a monumental achievement to make it happen, considering how nasty the schedule is, but talent-wise, the Trojans are as good, or better than everyone in the league. They just have to avoid wearing down after the first month.

Key game: Oct. 7 at Florida Atlantic. If this isn't the Sun Belt title game, it'll go a long way to deciding the champion. It couldn't come at a worse time for Troy, as the last of a three-game road trip and the final battle after starting the year on the road for five of the first six games. However, if Troy pulls it off, the Sun Belt will be there for the taking.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Third down conversions: Troy 80 of 190 (45%) – Opponents 45 of 171 (26%)
- Punt return average: Troy 16.8 yards – Opponents 10.5 yards
- Fumbles: Opponents 30 (lost 15) – Troy 23 (lost 14)