2009 Troy Preview - Offense

Posted Jul 29, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Troy Trojan Offense

Troy Trojans

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 Troy Preview | 2009 Troy Offense
- 2009 Troy Defense |
2009 Troy Depth Chart
- 2008 Troy Preview |
2007 Troy Preview | 2006 Troy Preview 

What you need to know:
The spread offense should keep on humming with all the skill stars returning and the interior of the line intact. The only issue will be at tackle where first-team all-stars Dion Small and Chris Jamison are gone, but the Trojans have a slew of great recruits coming in who can start right away. The big question mark, and it’s a good problem to have, is at quarterback where Levi Brown is back after leading the team to the Sun Belt title over the second half of last year. However, Jamie Hampton is coming back from a knee injury and is the best all-around option to run the attack. There are other good quarterbacks waiting in the wings and jockeying for position on the depth chart. DuJuan Harris leads a quick group of running backs, while Jerrel Jernigan is an All-Sun Belt star receiver who does a little of everything well.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Levi Brown
201-326, 2,030 yds, 15 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: DuJuan Harris
210 carries, 1,077 yds, 11 TD
Receiving: Jerrel Jernigan
77 catches, 868 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Junior WR Jerrel Jernigan
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior OT Tyler Graves
Unsung star on the rise: Graves
Best pro prospect: Jernigan
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Jernigan, 2) RB DuJuan Harris, 3) C Danny Franks
Strength of the offense: Starting skill players, quarterback depth
Weakness of the offense:
Sure-thing tackles, power running


Projected Starter: Not expected to do much as the third option coming into the season, and even considered to potentially move to receiver, Richmond transfer Levi Brown was thrown into the starting role halfway through the season and was fantastic completing 62% of his passes for 2,030 yards and 15 touchdowns with three interceptions. While he’s not much of a runner, he gained 17 yards and was able to avoid sacks without much of a problem. At 6-4 and 225 pounds, he has good size and excellent skills. Now he has a Sun Belt championship on his résumé.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Jamie Hampton was the starter going into the season, having waited his turn playing behind Omar Haugabook, but he struggled a bit in his five games throwing eight interceptions to go along with nine touchdown passes until he suffered a season-ending knee injury. While he’s not as big as Levi Jones at 6-2 and 206 pounds, he’s a better runner with 237 yards and four scores in his limited action. He’s a good enough passer, but if he takes over the starting job again it’ll be because of his mobility. By far he’s the fastest and most athletic of the top three quarterback options.

After Hampton went down, Tanner Jones stepped in and was going to see a little bit of action, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Only 6-0 and 195 pounds, the junior isn’t big but he’s a good athlete and he has a little bit of experience completing 13-of-27 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns with an interception two years ago. He’s clearly the third man in the mix.

Sophomore Dantavious Parker saw a little bit of time in mop-up duty, but he’ll likely be the fourth quarterback option. The 5-11, 196-pounder isn’t big, but he’s very, very fast with strong rushing skills. There’s a chance he could move to another position to get his wheels on the field.

Freshman Corey Robinson is the dark-horse to see time. Kentucky's Mr. Football set national high school record with 5,872 yards and 91 touchdowns and has the speed and skills to step and start at some point. The 6-0, 212-pounder is an accurate passer who'll be the starter someday, but he might be kept under wraps for another year with so many other options.

Watch Out For ... Brown to be the unquestioned starter throughout the season. While Hampton is a better overall fit for the spread with his rushing skills, Brown played well enough last season, and should be good enough this year, to keep the job.
Strength: Options. Assuming Hampton and Jones are back from their knee injuries, Troy has three quarterbacks who could start for anyone in the Sun Belt outside of Florida Atlantic. And then there’s Parker and Robinson who can also play.
Weakness: A quarterback controversy? Will Brown be looking over his shoulder if he has a bad game? Overall, the situation appears to be fine, but this could be a bit sticky if Brown plays tight and if Hampton and Jones are great in practices.
Outlook: The situation is fantastic with several options to keep the offense going. Levi Brown is a big, talented passer who’ll be the main man as long as there’s a running game from the backs to keep things moving. If the offense needs a runner at quarterback, Jamie Hampton will get back in and see time. The passing game might not be the most efficient around, but it’ll be effective and there will be production no matter who’s under center.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters
When Jamie Hampton got knocked out for the year with a knee injury, the Trojans needed more of a running game. Junior DuJuan Harris stepped up to finish with 1,077 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, after running 372 yards two years ago. He proved he could be a bit of a workhorse with a 28-carry, 234-yard, two touchdown game in the win over UL Lafayette. While he’s not all that just at 5-7 and 190 pounds, he’s tough for his size and is the type of home run hitter who can crank out yards in chunks. He’s also a good receiver finishing third on the team with 36 catches for 216 yards and three scores.   

Projected Top Reserves: 5-11, 224-pound senior Maurice Greer brings a bit more power to the running game, but he only ran for 194 yards and two touchdowns in limited play. The top JUCO transfer of last year originally signed with Colorado after earning Colorado Player of the Year honors rushing for 2,186 yards and 30 scores his senior season. He was considered a big-time recruit for the Buffs, but he ended up at Garden City CC. He has the talent to be used far more.

Senior Fernandus Edwards only saw time in three games and gained 79 yards with a touchdown with all the production coming in the blowout over Alcorn State. At 5-7 and 193 pounds, the former walk-on from the JUCO ranks is all about his speed and quickness.

Former linebacker Nathan Nolan is a walk-on who'll get time as a blocking back when the offense uses a fullback. He ran for 1,845 yards and 32 touchdowns in two years in high school, but he's not likely to see too many carries. He'll mostly be used to open holes.

Watch Out For ... Harris to be used even more. While he’s not huge and he can’t be a 25-carry-a-game back, he has proved he can be productive with more responsibility. If Levi Brown is under center, the offense will need Harris to carry the rushing load.
Strength: Quickness. Harris is lightning quick in and out of the holes, while Greer has good feet for a big back. The backs are all geared to move and be able to catch out of the backfield. If something happens to Harris, there are redshirt freshmen T.J. Mitchell and Bryant Williams who are similar.
Weakness: A true thumper. Greer is a big back who can pop, but the Trojans don’t have a workhorse who can take over games if the passing attack goes kaput. Harris will see more work, but he can’t carry the offense game in and game out.
Outlook: The running backs stepped up last year when needed, and now it won’t all be on DuJuan Harris to handle the rushing load if there isn’t production coming from the quarterbacks. WR Jerrel Jernigan will see his share of carries, but it’ll be more Maurice Greer and a healthy dose of one of the redshirt freshmen, either T.J. Mitchell or Bryant Williams, to carry one of the league’s better running games.
Rating: 5.5


Projected Starters
The hope was for junior Jerrel Jernigan to take on a bigger role in the offense after catching 30 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns in 2007. All he did was lead the team with 77 catches for 868 yards and five touchdowns, with 30 more catches than the No. 2 target, and he was second on the team in rushing with 254 yards and a score. The 5-9, 176-pounder is explosive and consistent, but now he has to do even more to crank out yards. The former high school quarterback averaged 11.3 yards per catch, but he’s fast enough to boost that number up big time. He’ll start at the outside X position.

Back at the Y is Cornelius Williams, a 6-0, 190-pound senior who caught 18 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns. He has been great in practices and has looked like a world-beater at times, but he hasn’t blown up with only a few catches here and there. With decent size and plenty of experience, he has the potential to be a dangerous No. 2 target.

Working at the Z will be Josh Jarboe, a good talent who was originally an Oklahoma Sooner before getting booted off the team partly due to a bizarre YouTube rant. He’s 6-2, 185 pounds, fast, and potentially a No. 1 target if he plays up to his skills and his potential. He’ll get the first look at the Z position.

5-9, 183-pound senior Andrew Davis has been a good target for the last few years averaging 14.3 yards per grab last year making 20 catches for 286 yards and two touchdowns. A tough inside target, he has decent speed and the hands to be used in a pinch on third downs. Now he has to be more consistent at the H.

Tight end Travis Boyd was a pure blocker with just one catch for three yards. At 6-3 and 237 pounds, he’s more like a fullback when it comes to pounding away, but he has the potential to be a bigger part of the offense if needed.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Zack Marcum won’t knock out Jerrel Jernigan from the X spot, but he’s good enough to see more action after making 14 catches for 135 yards. Very quick and becoming more and more reliable, he’s able to catch a few passes a game if he’s used in a variety of spots.

5-11, 186-pound senior Patrick Cherry is a seasoned veteran who came up with a few catches in some big games. While he only finished with eight grabs for eight yards, with a touchdown against LSU, he can be counted on to do more at the H position behind Andrew Davis or at the Z.

If Josh Jarboe doesn’t work out, 5-11, 205-pound senior Justin Bray will see more time at the Z position. The former defensive back could also work at the X with good speed to go along with his size. He caught 12 passes for 205 yard and a touchdown last year.

Watch Out For ... Jarboe. He should have Sam Bradford throwing him the ball this year, but OU’s loss is Troy’s gain. Jernigan is the team’s top receiver, but Jarboe could end up pushing for the spot.
Strength: Jernigan. He proved last year that he can be a true No. 1 receiver for the rest of the corps to work around. He’ll get all the focus from the defenses, and rightly so, meaning there will be plenty of opportunities for the other targets to see single coverage.
Weakness: A star No. 2 to take the pressure away from Jernigan. Jarboe could be it, and Williams isn’t a bad option, but there wasn’t anyone last year who demanded attention. Jernigan will get his touches, and now someone else has to step up and make the offense even more dangerous.
Outlook: The potential is there for the corps to be a strength if Josh Jarboe is the real deal and if Cornelius Williams can do more. Jerrel Jernigan is one of the Sun Belt’s best all-around players and he can’t be lost for any significant stretch of time. The backups are decent and have experience, but there’s a big drop-off.
Rating: 5.5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters
The anchor up front is senior Danny Franks, a former guard who turned into a center two years ago became a leader. Versatile, he could play almost anywhere on the line, but at 6-3 and 290 pounds, and with tremendous strength, he's best suited for the inside where he’s among the best centers in the Sun Belt.

Looking to step in and replace Dion Small at right tackle will be Tyler Graves, a 6-5, 280-pound JUCO transfer from Pearl River CC who was considered the top guard prospect coming out of Mississippi three years ago. Originally a Florida State Seminole, Graves has the talent and the potential to be an all-star caliber tackle from day one with excellent strength and surprising athleticism.

Taking over for Chris Jamison at left tackle will be Nic Riley, a 6-4, 282-pound senior who has been a decent backup over the last few years. He’ll be pushed hard by the new recruits, but at the very least he’ll be a good veteran who can play either tackle slot.

Back at left guard is junior Tyler Clark after starting every game last year. He grabbed the starting job in his true freshman season and has been too good to keep off the field. While he’s not huge at only 6-2 and 275 pounds, he’s extremely physical and a near-perfect athlete for the spread attack. Quick interior pass rushers don’t have a chance against him.

6-3, 306-pound senior Steven Adams was a spot starter at both center and guard where needed, but he’s best suited to the right guard spot where he grew into the role over the second half of the season. While there are other options behind Danny Franks at center, Adams would likely move over if there was a hole in the middle.

Projected Top Reserves: If Jimmie Arnold isn’t a starter at one of the tackle spots, or at center, he’ll be a very important, very good backup. The 6-2, 290-pounder got to school early and will be an all-star in the very near future. An all-state defensive lineman as well as a tackle in Florida, he could be too good to keep off the field.

Massive JUCO transfer James Brown brings more beef, too much beef, on the line. A great tackle prospect for the spread offense, the 6-5, 350-pounder will be devastating for the running game. A superstar high school prospect out of Mississippi, where he won the state high school weightlifting title in 2005, he’ll be a key piece of the line sooner than later at left tackle.

Watch Out For ... the recruits, Brown and Arnold might be all-stars from the moment they step on the field. JUCO transfer Ray Carter is an interesting tackle prospect while 6-4, 343-pound Jeremy Simmons is a future starter who was courted by Alabama and Auburn.
Strength: The coaching. There’s a reason the Troy offensive lines have been so dominant over the last several years. Part of it is the talent being brought in, part of it is the scheme, and part of it is the way the coaching staff is able to get production out of all five spots. Finishing fourth in the nation in sacks allowed with a quarterback like Levi Brown under center shows how good this group was.
Weakness: Sure-thing tackles. There’s a lot of talent waiting to shine, but it’s never a positive to lose first-team All-Sun Belt starters like Dion Small and Chris Jamison. The spotlight will be on the battles for tackle up until the opener.
Outlook: This was the best offensive line in the Sun Belt by far last year. This year, it’ll still be the star of the league but it won’t be as good. The interior will be rock solid with Danny Franks anchoring a good group, while there are enough solid tackle options to make up for the loss of two all-stars. Even with the new starters on the outside, expect Troy to be among the nation’s leaders in fewest sacks allowed.
Rating: 6