2010 Troy Preview
Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan
Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan
Posted Jun 5, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Troy Trojans

Troy Trojans

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Larry Blakeney
20th year: 153-77-1
Returning Lettermen: 22
Lettermen Lost: 26
Ten Best Troy Players
1. WR/KR Jerrel Jernigan, Sr.
2. C Tyler Clark, Sr.
3. RB DuJuan Harris, Sr.
4. RB Shawn Southward, Soph.
5. WR Tebiarus Gill, Sr.
6. CB Bryan Willis, Soph.
7. SS Barry Valcin, Sr.
8. OT James Brown, Jr.
9. LB Xavier Lamb, Jr.
10. DE Jonathan Massaquoi, Soph.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Bowling Green
Sept. 11 at Oklahoma St
Sept. 18 at UAB
Sept. 25 Arkansas St
Oct. 5 at MTSU
Oct. 16 Louisiana
Oct. 30 at ULM Nov. 6 at North Texas Nov. 13 FIU Nov. 20 at South Carolina Nov. 27 WKU
Dec. 4 at Florida Atlantic

Troy and head coach Larry Blakeney have done some terrific things over the last 19 years and they've overcome plenty of adversity, but if they can pull off a fifth straight Sun Belt title with the team that's returning, it might be time for the rest of the Sun Belt to pack up and figure out something else to do.

It's not like Blakeney hasn't rebuilt before. It seems like every year someone's after his offensive coordinator (with Neal Brown off to Texas Tech and receivers coach Kenny Edenfield taking over), there are always NFL caliber talents roaming around the defense, and the offense always seems to surprise with someone coming from out of nowhere to become terrific. But this year is something different.

The defense has to replace almost all the key parts from a group that didn't exactly stop anyone cold. Gone is the tremendous linebacking duo of Boris Lee and Bear Woods, and off to the NFL are Cameron Sheffield and Brandon Lang from the defensive front. Even with that foursome, the Trojans finished 104th in the nation in total defense and 92nd in scoring D.

Gone from the offense is Levi Brown, a record-setting bomber who led the No. 3 offense in the nation and the county's fourth best passing game. Gone is all-star center Danny Franks, second team All-Sun Belt defensive tackle Kevin Dixon, and all-star strong safety Cortland Fuller. Basically, the infrastructure of last year's Sun Belt champion has been gutted, but that doesn't mean the cupboard is bare.

Led by Jerrel Jernigan, the receiving corps is the best in the Sun Belt by ten miles, the lighting-quick duo of DuJuan Harris and Shawn Southward combined for 22 rushing touchdowns last year, there's speed and athleticism to burn on defense, and the kicking combination of PK Michael Taylor and P Will Goggans are among the best in the Sun Belt. But even with all the positives, Sun Belt, if you're going to finally knock the king off the mountain, do it now.

On the plus side, there's not going to be any complacency within the program. No one's going to pick the Trojans to win the title, so there can be a legitimate "no one believes in us" whine and a rallying cry for the entire season. As far as athleticism, few teams in the league can stay with the young Trojans, and on raw talent this will be no worse than a .500 conference campaign. And, of course, there's Blakeney.

Arguably the nation's most underappreciated head man, he has seen the D-II days and now has the program to a point where it can reload and replace a slew of all-stars in a hurry. This might not beat Blakeney's best team, but if he can pull off another title, it could be his most impressive.

What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. Levi Brown was taken early in the seventh round by Buffalo and will be given a long, hard look at the job right away. He took over for Omar Haugabook, who supposedly wasn't replaceable, and finished his career with 6,284 passing yards and 38 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Now it'll be a battle with Jamie Hampton back in the hunt after winning the starting job in 2008 and leaving early with a torn ACL. Corey Robinson is a dangerous redshirt freshman who set all sorts of Kentucky high school records. While they need to do something special to be in the chase, speedy Dantavious Parker and dual-threat JUCO transfer Greg Jenkins will get their chances.

What to watch for on defense: A major concern in the middle of the line. The secondary that was so porous last year will end up being fine with several options and plenty of prospects. The pass rush, even without Cameron Sheffield and Brandon Lang, will be fantastic; it always is. The linebacking corps won't be nearly as good without Boris Lee and Bear Woods, but it'll be quick and it'll put up big stats. The problem is at tackle where 280-pound Riley Flowers is one of the only bulky players to use inside, while the other projected starting tackle, Tony Davis, is just 242 pounds. Troy utilizes a 4-3 scheme, but it's so small up front that it might have to go to a 3-4.

The team will be far better if … it doesn't have to face good quarterbacks. Troy lost four games last year. How's this for a foursome of signal callers to deal with? Bowling Green's Tyler Sheehan (who finished fifth in the nation in total offense leading the nation's No. 6 passing game), Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour (arguably the MAC's greatest player of all-time), Arkansas' Ryan Mallett (probably the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft), and some Tebow guy. This year, the best quarterback the Trojans are likely to face will be Middle Tennessee's Dwight Dasher or South Carolina's Stephen Garcia; they're not the bombers that destroyed last year's defense.

The schedule: It's manageable. It'll take a mega-upset to beat Oklahoma State or South Carolina on the road, but it wouldn't be a total shocker if the Trojans provided a push in either non-conference battle. Splitting against Bowling Green and UAB is a must for conference pride, but most importantly, three of the four non-Sun Belt games can be used as a September tune-up before hosting Arkansas State in the conference opener. A string of three conference road games in four will determine the team's season with nasty games at MTSU and ULM coming before November. Closing out against Florida Atlantic on the road isn't a plus. In all, there are only four home games after the September 4th opener against Bowling Green, and there aren't two home dates in a row.

Best offensive player: Senior WR/KR Jerrel Jernigan. The two-time first-team All-Sun Belt performer followed up a 77-catch season by making 71 grabs for a lot more yards. He went from being a good midrange target to a devastating deep threat averaging 15.5 yards per grab. Great in the open field, he can also make plays as a runner with 570 yards and two career scores, and he has also served as a dangerous kickoff and punt returner.

Best defensive player: Sophomore CB Bryan Willis. On a team that struggled to stop the pass, Willis was one of the few bright spots with a team-leading four picks while coming up with 73 stops. While not exactly a shut down corner who can erase half the field, he's a great open field tackler and will be the leader of the secondary.

Key player to a successful season: Junior NT Riley Flowers. The quarterback situation will work itself out with four good options able to step in and start, but the season goes into the tank if Flowers doesn't stay healthy and play well. 286-pound junior Emmanuel Dudley is one of the only bulky players built to handle the work in the middle, but the 280-pound Flowers is the team's best tackle and he has to be fantastic or else there will be huge problems against decent running teams.

The season will be a success if … the Trojans win the Sun Belt title. Even with all the problems and all the turnover and all the concerns with the schedule, at this point, it's championship or nothing after winning the title four straight times. While that might not be fair, and it really would be a good year if the team comes up with a winning season and gets to a bowl, the bar is set high around this program.

Key game: Oct. 5 at Middle Tennessee. MTSU might be the Sun Belt's best team this year, and there might not be any chance for the Trojans to come up with a fifth straight title without coming up with a fifth win in a row in the series. Troy has managed to break the Blue Raiders' hearts time and again in key showdowns, and this year, the game takes on even more importance.

2009 Fun Stats:
- First Quarter Scoring: Troy 103 – Opponents 41
- Fourth Down Conversions: Opponents 10-of-18 (56%) – Troy 4-of-17 (24%)
- Average passing yards per game: Troy 336.5 – Opponents 286.8

- 2010 Troy Preview | 2010 Troy Offense
- 2010 Troy Defense | 2010 Troy Depth Chart
- Troy Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006