Month: July 2016

KNOW THE FOE: Troy Trojans

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  • LOCATION: Troy, Alabama
  • HOME FIELD: Larry Blakeney Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium (capacity 30,000)
  • CONFERENCE: Sun Belt Conference
  • 2015 RECORD: 4-8, 3-5 in Sun Belt
  • PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Brandon Silvers, RB Jordan Chunn, OL Antonio Garcia, DE Rashad Dillard, LB William Lloyd, LB Justin Lucas, LB Demetrius Cain
  • HEAD COACH: Neal Brown, 2nd season (4-8)
  • OFFENSIVE COORDINATORS: Kenny Edenfield (2nd season), Matt Moore (2nd season)
  • DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Vic Koenning (2nd season)
  • ASSISTANT COACHES: 
    • Kenny Edenfield, Inside Wide Receivers (9th season)
    • Matt Moore, Offensive Line (2nd season)
    • Vic Koenning, Safeties (2nd season)
    • Bam Hardmon, Defensive Line (2nd season)
    • Al Pogue, Cornerbacks/Recruiting Coordinator (3rd season)
    • Sean Reagan, Quarterbacks/Running Backs (2nd season)
    • Jordan Lesley, Defensive Tackles (1st season)
    • Cornelius Williams, Outside Wide Receivers (2nd season)
    • Jon Sumrall, Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator (2nd season)

2016 SCHEDULE

  • 9/3 – Austin Peay
  • 9/10 – at Clemson
  • 9/17 – at Southern Miss
  • 9/24 – New Mexico State*
  • 10/1 – at Idaho*
  • 10/15 – Georgia State*
  • 10/20 – at South Alabama*
  • 11/5 – Massachusetts
  • 11/12 – Appalachian State*
  • 11/17 – Arkansas State*
  • 11/26 – at Texas State*
  • 12/3 – at Georgia Southern*

*Conference game

CLASS OF 2016

  1. Kelvin Lucky, DE (Elmore, AL)
  2. Zo Bridges, LB (Opelika, AL)
  3. Dominic Walker, WR* (Orlando, FL)
  4. Sawyer Smith, QB (Cantonment, FL)
  5. Tristan Crowder, OL (Carrollton, GA)
  6. Sam Letton, TE (Marietta, GA)
  7. B.J. Smith, RB (Millbrook, AL)
  8. Tevaris McCormick, WR* (Biloxi, MS)
  9. Kaleb Barker, QB (Decatur, AL)
  10. Michael Robinson, DT (Auburn, AL)
  11. Terrance Corbett, DE (Athens, AL)
  12. Jabir Frye, RB (Pensacola, FL)
  13. Adarius Wesley, WR (Montgomery, AL)
  14. Kris Weatherspoon, S* (Natchez, MS)
  15. Walter Pritchett, LB (Phenix City, AL)
  16. Marcus Webb, DE (Decatur, AL)
  17. Jai Nunn-Liddell, CB (Mableton, GA)
  18. Brandon Niccum, OL* (Justin, TX)
  19. Dylan Bradshaw, OL (Enterprise, AL)
  20. J.L. Gaston, OL (Monroeville, AL)
  21. Baron Poole II, DT* (Decatur, GA)
  22. Jeremiah Jones, S (Bessemer, AL)
  23. Tyler Sumpter, P (Hoover, AL)

*Junior college transfer

Bold indicates early enrollee.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP – OFFENSE

  • QB – Brandon Silvers (Jr., Orange Beach, AL)
  • RB – Jordan Chunn (R-Jr., Gurley, AL)
  • WR – Emanuel Thompson (Jr., Clayton, AL)
  • WR – Dominic Walker (Jr., Orlando, FL)
  • WR – Tevaris McCormick (Jr., Biloxi, MS)
  • WR – John Johnson (Jr., Troy, AL)
  • LT – Antonio Garcia (Sr., Atlanta, GA)
  • LG – Deonte Crumitie (So., Lake City, FL)
  • C – Brandon Niccum (Jr., Justin, TX)
  • RG – Xavier Fields (Sr., Montgomery, AL)
  • RT – Tyler Lassiter (Sr., Hazel Green, AL)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP – DEFENSE

  • DE – Rashad Dillard (Sr., Greer, SC)
  • DT – Seth Calloway (Jr., Ariton, AL)
  • DT – Baron Poole II (Jr., Decatur, GA)
  • DE – Terris Lewis (Sr., Linden, AL)
  • LB – William Lloyd (Sr., Rosedale, MS)
  • LB – Demetrius Cain (Sr., Hazlehurst, MS)
  • NB – Josh Marshall (Sr., Lawrenceville, GA)
  • CB – Jalen Harris (Sr., Dothan, AL)
  • CB – Kamryn Melton (Jr., Dothan, AL)
  • S – Kris Weatherspoon (Jr., Natchez, MS)
  • S – Cedarius Rookard (So., Spartanburg, SC)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP – SPECIAL TEAMS

  • P/K – Ryan Kay (Sr., Jonesboro, GA)

GOOD NEWS

  • The Trojans bring back a lot of experience on both sides of the ball, starting with junior QB Brandon Silvers, who is entering his third year as the starter. Getting running back Jordan Chunn back from a season-ending collarbone injury should help.
  • Troy’s defense looks to be potent in the front seven. They lose pass-rusher Tyler Roberts, but return senior Rashad Dillard (seven sacks) and have improved depth.
  • The Trojans’ offensive line brings back almost everybody, including left tackle Antonio Garcia, an NFL prospect.

BAD NEWS

  • The Trojans are scary thin in some areas, including quarterback, the offensive line, and the secondary. No one behind Silvers has thrown a collegiate pass, and the secondary is breaking in new starters at safety after one presumed veteran, JaQuadrian Lewis, unexpectedly quit the team over the summer.
  • Troy lacks experience at wide receiver, with Emanuel Thompson (28 catches) the only major returning playmaker. Junior college transfers Tevaris McCormick and Dominic Walker enrolled early in the spring to help out. Walker began his career at Auburn.
  • The Trojans need to regain their mojo in late-game situations. They lost four Sun Belt games by 10 points or less in 2015.

VERDICT

The Trojans are making progress under second-year coach Neal Brown. The air-raid offense should continue to be entertaining to watch, and the defense was a pleasant surprise in year one under a new coaching staff. The Trojans are also benefitting from renewed fan support and they have more clout on the recruiting trail these days. Troy is probably at least one year away from being true conference contenders, but they’ll have a chance to push for their first bowl bid since 2010 if they stay healthy.

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KNOW THE FOE: Appalachian State Mountaineers

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  • LOCATION: Boone, North Carolina
  • HOME FIELD: Kidd Brewer Stadium (capacity 24,050)
  • CONFERENCE: Sun Belt Conference
  • 2015 RECORD: 11-2, 7-1 in Sun Belt
  • PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Taylor Lamb, RB Marcus Cox, TE Barrett Burns, DE Nate Norwood, LB John Law, LB Eric Boggs, CB Latrell Gibbs
  • HEAD COACH: Scott Satterfield, 4th season (22-15)
  • OFFENSIVE COORDINATORS: Shawn Clark (1st season), Frank Ponce (4th season)
  • DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Nate Woody (4th season)
  • ASSISTANT COACHES:
    • Shawn Clark, Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator (1st season)
    • Frank Ponce, Quarterbacks/Pass Game Coordinator (4th season)
    • Nate Woody, Outside Linebackers (3rd season)
    • Stu Holt, Running Backs (2nd season)
    • Mark Ivey, Defensive Line/Special Teams Coordinator (3rd season)
    • Bryan Brown, Cornerbacks (5th season)
    • Justin Watts, Wide Receivers (2nd season)
    • Dale Jones, Inside Linebackers (21st season)
    • Scot Sloan, Secondary/Recruiting Coordinator (6th season)

2016 SCHEDULE

  • 9/1 – at Tennessee
  • 9/10 – Old Dominion
  • 9/17 – Miami
  • 9/24 – at Akron
  • 10/1 – Georgia State*
  • 10/12 – at Louisiana-Lafayette*
  • 10/22 – Idaho*
  • 10/27 – at Georgia Southern*
  • 11/5 – Texas State*
  • 11/12 – at Troy*
  • 11/19 – Louisiana-Monroe*
  • 11/26 – at New Mexico State*

*Conference game

CLASS OF 2016

  1. Marcus Williams Jr., RB (Pinetops, NC)
  2. Matthew McClurg, DE (Alcoa, TN)
  3. K.J. Chamberlain, S (Greenwood, SC)
  4. Aris Duffey, S (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)
  5. Shemar Jean-Charles, CB (Miramar, FL)
  6. Jeremy Level, S (Greensboro, NC)
  7. Crisjohn Roscoe, WR (Neptune Beach, FL)
  8. Mitchell McClurg, TE (Alcoa, TN)
  9. Jalen Virgil, WR (Lawrenceville, GA)
  10. Zac Thomas, QB (Trussville, AL)
  11. Nate Haskins, OL (Orlando, FL)
  12. Kaiden Smith, CB (Lawrenceville, GA)
  13. A’darius Purifoy, CB (Pensacola, FL)
  14. Devonte Harrison, S (Jacksonville, FL)
  15. Matt Williams, OL (Lehigh Acres, FL)
  16. Jordan Fehr, LB (Charlotte, NC)
  17. Chris Willis, DE (Shelby, NC)
  18. Cole Garrison, OL (Pinson, AL)
  19. Clifton Duck, CB (Matthews, NC)
  20. Jacob Huesman, QB (Bradenton, FL)
  21. Ryan Neuzil, OL (Bradenton, FL)
  22. John Hunter, DE (Clemmons, NC)
  23. Darrynton Evans, S (New Smyrna Beach, FL)

Bold indicates early enrollee.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP – OFFENSE

  • QB – Taylor Lamb (Jr., Calhoun, GA)
  • RB – Marcus Cox (Sr., Dacula, GA)
  • WR – Ike Lewis (Jr., Simpsonville, SC)
  • WR – Shaedon Meadors (Jr., Duncan, SC)
  • WR – Jaylan Barbour (So., Monroe, NC)
  • TE – Barrett Burns (Sr., Woodstock, GA)
  • LT – Beau Nunn (Jr., York, SC)
  • LG – Parker Collins (Sr., North Augusta, SC)
  • C – Tobias Edge-Campbell (So., Raeford, NC)
  • RG – Jamie Collmar (Sr., Gastonia, NC)
  • RT – Colby Gossett (Jr., Cumming, GA)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP – DEFENSE

  • DE – Nate Norwood (Sr., Hampton, GA)
  • NG – Tyson Fernandez (Sr., Fuquay-Verina, NC)
  • DE – Caleb Fuller (Jr., Wilmington, NC)
  • LB – Kennan Gilchrist (Sr., Abbeville, SC)
  • LB – Eric Boggs (Jr., Belton, SC)
  • LB – John Law (Sr., Atlanta, GA)
  • LB – Devan Stringer (Jr., Gainesville, GA)
  • CB – Latrell Gibbs (Jr., Kennesaw, GA)
  • CB – Tae Hayes (So., Decatur, GA)
  • SS – A.J. Howard (Jr., Hamilton, GA)
  • FS – Alex Gray (Sr., Suwanee, GA)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP – SPECIAL TEAMS

  • P – Bentlee Critcher (Sr., South Daytona, FL)
  • K – Michael Rubino (R-Fr., Apex, NC)

GOOD NEWS

  • The Mountaineers’ explosive offense averaged 37 points per game in 2015, and could match that this season. Quarterback Taylor Lamb and running back Marcus Cox are both all-conference candidates, and the offensive line returns four starters.
  • App State’s salty defense returns nine starters, including linebackers John Law and Eric Boggs. The duo combined for 17 tackles for loss and eight sacks last season.
  • Cornerback Latrell Gibbs (Sun Belt-leading seven interceptions) leads an experienced and talented secondary, which loses safety Doug Middleton, but returns sophomore Tae Hayes, junior A.J. Howard, and senior Mondo Williams.

BAD NEWS

  • The Mountaineers lost a trio of experienced receivers to graduation, leaving very little experience at the position. Leading returning receiver Shaedon Meadors (21 receptions) has been injury-prone, and he’s joined by some gifted, albeit undersized, targets (Deltron Hopkins, Jaylan Barbour, and Mykelti Armstrong, to name a few). At 6’3″, redshirt freshman Mock Adams looks like a potential deep threat, but is unproven.
  • App State must find a way to replace the leadership and production of defensive end Ronald Blair. Blair, the 2015 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 7.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss and was a fifth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers.
  • The Mountaineers are bound to play in plenty of close games, and they’re rolling the dice on a freshman placekicker, Michael Rubino. He was highly-touted coming out of high school, but he’ll need to deliver in crunch time.

VERDICT

Coming off an 11-2 season and a thrilling bowl victory over Ohio, the Mountaineers are sitting pretty near the top of the Sun Belt. Coach Scott Satterfield signed an offseason extension running through the 2020 season, and the momentum is there for App State to capture an outright Sun Belt championship this season. With a tenacious defense, a powerful running game and experience littered across the roster, the Mountaineers have a chance to make some more noise in the conference this fall.

PREDICTION

10-2, 7-1 in Sun Belt