Coach: Neal Brown (0-0, entering first season; 0-0 overall)
2014 record: 3-9 overall, 3-5 Sun Belt; tied for seventh in Sun Belt
Look back: Troy opened the 2014 season on a five-game losing streak and went on to win just three games, with those victories coming against struggling programs New Mexico State, Georgia State and Idaho. It was a step back for legendary coach Larry Blakeney, who helped the Trojans jump from the Division II level to the Football Bowl Subdivision and won five consecutive Sun Belt titles from 2006-10. The team struggled to match that success and Blakeney opted to retire at the end last season.
Troy hired Neal Brown, a former wide receiver who previously served as an offensive coordinator at Troy, Texas Tech and Kentucky, to take over the program.
Offensive starters returning: 9
Offensive starters lost: 2
Defensive starters returning: 6
Defensive starters lost: 5
Key losses: WR Chandler Worthy, OL Caleb Carbine, OL Terrence Jones, OL Tommy Stephens, DT Billy Dobbs, LB Mark Wilson, LB Wayland Coleman-Dancer, CB Femi Odaibo, CB Ethan Davis
Top returnees: RB Brandon Burks, QB Brandon Silvers, WR Bryan Holmes, WR Teddy Ruben, WR K.D. Edenfield, TE Tommy Blevins, OL Dalton Bennett, OL Antonio Garcia, DE Tyler Roberts, DE Jamal Stadom, DT Lonnie Gosha, S Montres Kitchens, S JaQuadrian Lewis, CB Tray Hall
Strengths: Brown has had success developing potent offensive attacks, using an up-tempo spread offense. Quarterback Brandon Silvers, who was 191-of-271 passing for 1,836 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions last season returns to lead the Troy offense.
Brown is expected to get some get help from running back Brandon Burks and receivers Bryan Holmes, Teddy Ruben and K.D. Edenfield.
Safety Montres Kitchens, who earned first team All-Sun Belt honors and ranked No. 7 nationally with six interceptions last season, returns to anchor the defense. Cornerback Lamarcus Farmer transferred from UAB and is immediately eligible to help boost the Troy defense. Farmer was a three-year starter for the Blazers. Last season, he recorded 25 tackles, two interceptions, three pass break ups and a fumble recovery.
Weaknesses: The Trojans had headaches on both sides of the ball last season, ranking No. 105 out of 125 NCAA-recognized teams in scoring offense (21.8 points per game) and No. 111 in scoring defense (36.2 points allowed per game).
The team lost three key starting offensive linemen, key members of the secondary and a dynamic receiver/return specialist in Chandler Worthy.
The returning players and crop of new players will have to quickly adapt to a new system put in place by Brown and his staff.
Outlook: Troy’s nonconference schedule is tough, but the Sun Belt slate includes some games the new-look Trojans should be capable of winning. It’ll likely take more than just one season for first-year coach Brown to get his team set, but Troy has a winning tradition and should eventually make it back to the postseason.
Sept. 5 at NC State
Sept. 12 Charleston Southern
Sept. 19 at Wisconsin
Oct. 3 South Alabama
Oct. 10 at Mississippi State
Oct. 17 Idaho
Oct. 24 at New Mexico State
Oct. 31 at Appalachian State
Nov. 7 UL-Monroe
Nov. 14 Georgia Southern
Nov. 27 at Georgia State
Dec. 5 at UL-Lafayette
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com