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Thread: Lindy's 2008 Team Preview - No. 88

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    Default Lindy's 2008 Team Preview - No. 88

    Troy must reload to win another Sun Belt title
    Lindy's 2008 Team Preview- No. 88
    By Richard Scott, Friday July 11, 2008 RE: Troy


    Troy's success in the past two seasons, including consecutive eight-win seasons and at least a share of the past two Sun Belt championships goes way beyond the contributions of two people.

    Still, the Trojans' ability to replace star quarterback Omar Haugabook and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin will go a long way toward determining Troy's fate in 2008.

    When Franklin left for Auburn, Troy coach Larry Blakeney replaced him with receivers coach Neal Brown, the Football Bowl Subdivision's youngest coordinator at age 27. Brown played college and indoor football for Franklin and will continue to run his system.

    "That's the reason he is the coordinator," said Blakeney, in his 18th season at Troy. "We don't want to change. We want to be a system team; we want to be no-huddle, up-tempo, able to run the football and throw the pass to set up the run."

    That system was an excellent fit for Haugabook, the two-time Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year. Now that he's gone, sophomore Jamie Hampton is the No. 1 quarterback after competing with sophomore Tanner Jones and Richmond transfer Levi Brown in the spring. Jones and Brown are better pure passers, but Hampton brings more of the dual-threat versatility that made Haugabook so successful.

    The Trojans also must replace leading rusher Kenny Cattouse and leading receiver Gary Banks. At tailback, junior college transfer Maurice Greer, and freshmen Chris Anderson and T.J. Mitchell, will get a long look in fall camp as they try to earn time at the feature back position in an offense that often uses four or five receivers.

    On the plus side, the Trojans return six offensive linemen with starting experience, led by senior tackles Dion Small and Chris Jamison and junior center Danny Franks.

    Troy is starting over at the defensive corners after relying on two of the nation's best in 2007.

    Leodis McKelvin was the 11th overall pick in the NFL Draft, and Elbert Mack led the nation with eight interceptions (0.67 per game) in 2007. Senior safeties Sherrod Martin, Tavares Williams and Terence Moore will have to lead the secondary while the Trojans work with three incoming junior college corners.

    The Trojans played a lot of nickel defense last year. With three senior safeties and only one returning starter at linebacker, don't be surprised if the Trojans play even more nickel this fall. That one linebacker, junior Boris Lee, is one of the Sun Belt's best defensive players. He should benefit from an experienced line that returns three starters, led by All-Sun Belt senior end Kenny Mainor.

    Junior end Brandon Lang, who suffered a season ending knee injury early last season, also returns.

    McKelvin's departure leaves a big hole in the kicking game because he was one of the nation's top kick and punt returners. Sophomore receiver Jerrel Jernigan has some potential as a returner but still has a lot to prove.

    The Trojans must also replace Greg Whibbs, who handled placekicks, punts and kickoffs. Troy is hoping two redshirt freshmen, kicker Michael Taylor and punter Will Goggans, step up.

    The Trojans return the core of a conference championship contender and could be good enough up front on both sides to take some of the pressure off the new skill players and corners. At some point, those new players will have to come through, especially at quarterback, for the Trojans to win the Sun Belt.

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    Way to low for the Trojans.

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