Friday, September 03, 2010

25 Questions about Trojans....

Today brings our first edition of the 25 questions feature we will use to preview each of our opponents.  Obviously, it is much easier to do this later in the season, when you know what teams have this year.  By definition, this preview is based on:

  1. Who is back and what they did last year.
  2. Reading the Dothan Eagle Blog and articles.
  3. Phil Steele.
With that in mind, away we go.

What is their body of work?

It is impressive, they won 8 games in each of the last four seasons.  Over the past ten seasons, they are 41-5 at home and have won the Sun Belt two years in a row.  While they have lost some players, this is a team that is used to winning.

What is their best recent result?

Two years ago, they came within a hair's breadth of taking out LSU in Baton Rogue, but had an inexplicable last collapse.  In 2007 they beat Oklahoma State.

What is their worst recent result?

Honestly, I would imagine it would be losing to us last season, or ULM the year before.  They portfolio is to win the games they should win, and then play the top teams tough but lose.  To wit:  over the last 4 seasons they are 26-3 in the Sub Belt.

What is their turnover ratio?

They are -6 this year and were +6 the year before, and in negative numbers the last 3 seasons.  While we are not sure how they will do this year, they have not required turnovers to win. Certainly, they will be hard pressed to match Levi Browns 9 INTs in 500+ attempts.


How is their QB Play?

Well, Coach Blakeney is being all "I'm not telling" about his starting QB, so we are not sure who we will see.  It is Jr. Jamie Hampton who started six games two seasons ago and then red-shirted last year, and r-Fr. Corey Robinson.  Both were highly recruited.  Our blogswap this week indicated that Corey Robinson is the better passer and Hampton the better runner.  The prediction was that we would see Robinson, but that is unclear.  At this point, both are a step down from Levi Brown....but they would appear to be pretty competitive.

What was their scoring and yards per play?

After being defensively oriented early in this history, they have scored 30+ points per game for the past 3 seasons.  At 6.5 yards per play last year, they were a half point better than CMU was.  They were 3rd in the country in total yards last season.

Can they run the ball?

The answer is yes.  They averaged 4.4 yards per carry last season, and return their top 3 rushers, plus Chris Anderson is new.  DeJuan Harris is a SR who had 1,000 yards as a sophomore and a bad year last year and Shawn Southward was the leading RB last year.  Also, don't forget Jerrel Jernigan taking wildcat snaps, where he averaged 6.7 yards per attempt.

Do they pass the ball?

Well, they certainly did with Levi Brown last year.  His QB ranking of 141 was just slightly better than Tyler Sheehan's.  We discussed the QBs above, and they have their top 3 receivers back.  Jernigan is simply a great player, and Teberius Gill is back as well.  Harris will catch balls from the backfield.

How is their run/pass balance?

They passed on more than 50% of their plays last year, but with the new QB, the scuttlebutt around camp was that they would rely more on the run game this season.

Do they convert on 3rd Down.

Last year they converted 43%, which is good, and a couple points behind where the Falcons were.

Do they score in the red zone?

They were good but not great in the red zone last year, with 4.3 points per trip.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They did give up a lot of sacks last year--24.

In general, this team could easily average 30 yards a game again.  Clearly, as you can see, they were performing at a high rate on all the key measures, which they will have to repeat with a new QB, and that is not easy.  They do have a new OC, but he was an internal replacement, so the transition should be smooth on that front.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

The key defensive question for Troy is things that are difficult to know now.  They lost 6 of their front 7, and these were good players--two NFL d-ends and two very strong LBs.  They have confidence in the people they have coming up, who, like BGs guys, have played some but not started, and the depth is not great.  Everyone, Phil Steele included, believes that they have ability, but they are still in their roles for the first time and it will remain to be seen how they perform.

I have to note that I have been thinking this all week, and then I looked and realized that for all those talented players, Troy allowed 29.8 points per game, which was worse than Bowling Green.  Their defense was not particularly productive last year.

Do they defend the run effectively?

See above.

Could they be passed on?

They are expecting to be improved over last season, but not necessarily be as good as they were in the years before that.  They are starting one freshmen in the backfield.  Bryan Willis is a coming star at one of the CB positions.  Their safeties are seniors, but new starters.

Did they get off the field on 3rd down?

Last year, it was 39%, which is pretty good but not great.

Do they defend in the red zone?

Last year, this was not very much of a strong point.

Do they pressure the QB?

They had 33 sacks last year and were disappointed in that.  This is an area where you would expect to see a drop in production with the loss of those two D-Ends.

In the end, the defense this year will have to work to be as good as last year's, and they gave up a bunch of points.  If BG has a good game plan, I have to believe we can score.

Special Teams:


Will Goggans is back.  Will was right in the middle of the nation last year and should continue to provide an adequate punting game.

Punt Return?

If you are ready to break out in a cold sweat, Jernigan is slated to run back punts and kickoffs.  Our coverage teams had better be ready, he is a threat to break every single return.


Michael Taylor, who did most of their kicking last year, is back.  He was 11-14 inside 50, with a 46 yard long FG.  He is accurate with a good leg.


They were just OK on defending kickoffs (#92) last year, so perhaps BG can get some jump start returns.

Kickoff Return?

See above:  Jernigan.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

To me, the overriding element is that we have two teams replacing key players.  Troy has historically been very difficult to beat at home.  Because of their youth, especially at QB and on defense, I believe we have a shot in this game, but I have picked Troy to win because of their home field and stronger playmakers at WR and RB.

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