2022 Troy Trojans Preview

by Matt Fargo

Troy Trojans

2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (3-5 SBC East) - 4-8-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 9
Defense - 9

Overview

Troy entered the Sun Belt Conference in 2004 and immediately became a player with winning seasons in six of its first seven years under head coach Larry Blakeney but he finished 17-31 the next four years and was let go. Neal Brown took over a program that was heading in the wrong direction but he turned it around quickly as after a 4-8 first season, the Trojans put together three straight double-digit win seasons and three bowl victories and Brown was scooped up by West Virginia. Chip Lindsey was brought in from a great background as offensive coordinator at Southern Miss, Arizona St. and Auburn over five years but he could not continue the momentum as his three-year tenure resulted in three five-win seasons. Current head coach Jon Sumrall is in his first season after a three-year stint at Kentucky, the last being co-defensive coordinator and knows this program.

Offense

Troy returned 10 starters on offense last season and the production dipped considerably over the previous two seasons, going from an average of 458.4 ypg in 2019 to 393.2 ypg in 2020 to 339.9 ypg last season which was No. 108 in the nation while averaging just 22.8 ppg, No. 102 overall. The Trojans return nine starters this season and the offense should improve immensely. Quarterback Gunnar Watson is in his fifth year in the program and this will be his third head coach and different system but this should be his best after a very average season last year. Three of his top four receivers are back highlighted by leading receiver Tez Johnson who had 735 yards and four touchdowns while hauling in 67 catches. The offensive line has four starters back and needs to open holes for a running game that was No. 122 in the country. Leading rusher Kimani Vidal is back after gaining 701 yards.

Defense

The defense kept Troy competitive last season as it finished No. 27 in total defense but allowed 26.1 ppg which was just No. 65 overall and a lot of that was due to a poor finish where it allowed 35 or more points in four of its last five games after not allowing that many points in any of the first seven contests. Nine starters also return on this side and a really good defense should be even better. The front six is loaded with pass rushers and will be anchored by bandits Javon Solomon and Richard Jibunor who combined for 18.5 sacks and 91 tackles and defensive tackle Will Choloh who had 40 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Behind them are two of the top three returning tacklers in Carlton Martial and K.J. Robertson who combined for 191 stops at linebacker. Safeties T.J. Harris and Dell Pettus had 110 tackles between them to lead the secondary so there are playmakers at all three levels.

2022 Season Outlook

Sumrall comes into a very good situation and his first season is comprised of experience and talent everywhere on both sides of the ball and overall, Troy is ranked No. 17 in returning production so there is no reason for this team to make a big jump. Actually, one reason going against that could be the schedule as the Trojans have one of the toughest in the conference while playing in the loaded SBC East Division. They open the season at Mississippi and then get a break with a home game against Alabama A&M before opening conference action at Appalachian St. The two remaining nonconference games are no east tasks at Western Kentucky and at home against Army. Troy also faces UL-Lafayette from the West Division on the road. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 and despite the brutal road portion of the slate, there are enough winnable games to surpass the number and get back to a bowl game.  

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2022 Al McMordie's BigAl.com. All Rights Reserved.