2012 Record: 5-7 (3-5 in Sun Belt)
Head Coach: Larry Blakeney (168-99-1 All-Time)
Four Year Win Trend: 6.25 wins and 6.25 losses
Last Bowl Game: 2010 New Orleans Bowl: beat Ohio 48-21
Stadium: Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, AL (capacity = 30,000)
Home Field Advantage: ranked 38th out of 55 mid-major teams
Out of Conference: 8/31 vs UAB, 9/7 vs Savannah State, 9/21 at Mississippi State, 9/28 at Duke, 11/16 at Ole Miss
Toughest Conference Home Game: 10/31 vs ULM
Stats to Fear: turned the ball over 26 times (9th in Sun Belt), only had 13 sacks (9th in Sun Belt)
Stats to Cheer: converted on 48.7% of third downs (1st in Sun Belt), held opponents to 35.76% on third downs (1st in Sun Belt
Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 77th out of 124 teams
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 7, Defense: 4, Special Teams: 2
Key Defensive Returnees: SS Chris Pickett (61 tackles) FS Camren Hudson (50 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Corey Robinson (3141 yds pass, 66.2% completions, 12 TD, 9 INT), WR EricThomas (55 rec), WR Chandler Worthy (46 rec)
Troy lost seven games in 2013 but only one of them by more than seven points. They weren't that far away from a very different record. It's reasonable to believe that Troy can get back to the stretch they had between 2006 and 2010 when they won 8 or 9 games every season. Maybe the only thing keeping them from that is the top half of the conference continues to improve and now provides a lot more competition for the Trojans.
Quarterback is not a position that the Trojans should be worried about as they return seniors Corey Robinson and Deon Anthony. At RB though they must replace their top three guys. Fortunately, the Trojans have a deep crop of RBs to choose from, they just need someone to come to the forefront this fall. At WR, the Trojans lose four players that caught 30 or more passes. The good news? Both Eric Thomas and Chandler Worthy, the second and third leading receivers on the team, return. In the Middle Tennessee preview, we referenced a Football Study Hall article that discussed tempo. Troy is a great example of a team that likes to dictate tempo as last year they were ranked 19th in terms of plays per minute. The offensive line will be the weak point of this offense as they return only three players who have started games for the Trojans. The Trojans may have to lean on their tempo to help out the OL and to keep defenses off balance.
The DL losses four of their top six tacklers. Last year they gave up 4.74 ypc (8th in SBC) and 185 ypg (8th in SBC). For the second straight year, the Trojans will see a lot of turnover in this unit. Shermane TeArt, who was injured after five games last year, could be the key player on the line as could Arkansas transfer Lonnie Gosha. Tyler Roberts will also provide a boost on the line as he moves from LB to DE. At LB, the Trojans lose their top two backers. They do return Mark Wilson and Dimitri Miles and they will be relied upon heavily as Troy looks for some others to step up and provide depth. Chris Pickett and Camren Hudson provide Troy with solid senior play at Safety. The Trojans lose three of their top four corners with only Chris Davis returning. There is talent on defense but it is certainly a question-mark.
The in-conference schedule does not favor Troy this year as they must travel to WKU, Arkansas State and Louisiana. All three of those will be very tough games. Two of the three conference games that Troy won last year were against teams that have moved on to other conferences (UNT, FIU). With the concerns on the OL and the question-marks on defense I think this team could be headed for another 5-7 season. The key stretch of the season is from Oct 26th to Nov 7th. The Trojans play Bobby Petrino's WKU on the road on the 26th and then turn around and must play ULM five days later. They finish that conference stretch at the Ragin Cajuns on Nov 7th. If they can win one of those games (or more) then this team will be bowl eligible.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews: