Scouting Report: Troy Defense

After giving up 46 points opening day, the Troy defense has more than its share of issues. Arkansas ran roughshod over the Trojans, piling up 350 yards on the ground on just 50 carries for a stunning 7.0 per run. Arkansas finished up with 507 yards of total offense and moved the ball at will.

Troy's defense was a disappointing seventh (of eight teams) in the Sun Belt Conference last season, but they expect to be much better this year. However with a schedule that includes Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma State and Georgia, they will be hard-pressed to produce strong numbers overall. They play a straight forward 4-3 scheme and normally do not blitz a lot.

Defensive Line ----- Troy is pretty solid in the middle with tackles Chris Bradwell and Marcus Pittman. Bradwell was a JUCO stud while Pittman is the prototypical space eater tying up two blockers. Well, he ties up two Sun Belt blockers; he shouldn't be able to do that against Florida. Their ends are somewhat undersized and will struggle against Florida's front wall. They managed one sack against Arkansas, but that came late against a backup.

Linebackers ----- This is an unusual unit in that the outside backers are both bigger and less mobile than the man in the middle. That guy at middle linebacker is sophomore Boris Lee (6-0,212) who had eleven tackles against the Razorbacks. Lee was in on 62 tackles last season after taking over the position at midseason and also intercepted three passes. The outside guys are Marcus Richardson and Josh Maxwell, both of whom are listed at 232 pounds. They had nine and seven tackles respectively opening day.

Secondary ----- This might be the best unit on the team with a corner that I believe can play in the SEC in Leodis McKelvin. He is solid in coverage and very physical. McKelvin had 66 tacklers last year and added nine in the Arkansas game. The safeties are solid, experienced players in Tavares Williams and Terence Moore. Both are big guys who are good tacklers, but you can certainly get deep on them.

All in all Troy's defense is about like Western Kentucky. They might have a little more size in the trenches and speed on the edges, but Western looks a bit more disciplined. Troy didn't finish seventh in the Sun Belt by accident, but should be better this time around. Still, the Gators ought to be able to put a similar number on the board that Arkansas did. The key for the Gators will be to win individual matches in the trenches so they can exploit a huge speed advantage in the back seven.

Anything Special ----- Troy has issues in the kicking game with two kickers who do not have very strong legs. The punter, Arian Vera averaged just 35 yards on eight kicks last week, but he did provide plenty of hang time and Arkansas could not mount a punt return. The Razorbacks did, however return a kickoff for a 90-yard touchdown and averaged 24 yards on the other returns. Their field goal kicker Greg Whibbs was just 11-for-19 last year but made two including a 42-yarder against Arkansas.

Troy played FSU and Georgia Tech very tough last season and Florida has to be aware of the potential difficulty this game might bring. Troy also was waxed by Nebraska 56-0 which shows the talent gap that exists between the Trojans and the top end of college football. A focused Florida team should have no difficulty Saturday night. A distracted one could have the Gators in the kind of battle they'd just as soon avoid.

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