Heading into his second season, Troy football head coach Neal Brown is continuing to “Rebuild the Wall.”
During Brown’s debut campaign, the Trojans saw improvement on both sides of the ball, most notably on defense, which posted numbers Troy hasn’t seen in years. Troy was ranked nationally after its 13 fumble recoveries and five defensive touchdowns, the most a Trojan defense has scored since 2004.
Senior defensive end Rashad Dillard will be leading that Trojan defensive after finishing third in the conference in sacks with 7.0. Dillard looks to be one of Troy’s best weapons on defense, and because of that, he has earned himself a spot on the All-Sun Belt Conference Preseason Football Team.
On the other side of the ball, the offense put up big numbers during a three-game stretch, scoring 144 points, the most since 1993.
Brown said he hopes to build off last season with upcoming talent as younger players are stepping up and contributing.
“This team is maturing,” Brown said, “We’ve added some high school pieces that are going to help us out as we move into the fall.
“An important focus in the locker room is the mental state of the players. We’ve got a good attitude. Our attitude is what it needs to be, and we’re making strides.”
Highlighting the offense this season are junior quarterback Brandon Silvers and running back Andre Flakes, a duo that will prove to be a tough combination for any defense to contain.
Silvers racked up 2,378 passing yards to go along with 21 passing touchdowns last season. The Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt Quarterback said his communication and leadership have improved by getting to know all the new faces on offense.
“Numbers will come if you can communicate,” Silvers said. “It’s all about execution.”
“Brandon’s done a great job in fall camp,” co-offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said at Troy Media Day. “He’s getting better every day.”
Silvers also is looking to make national headlines this year after being named to the Manning Award Watch List on Monday, Aug. 15. The award commemorates the achievements of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning and contains only 30 quarterbacks across the nation on its Watch List.
Alongside Silvers in the backfield is junior running back Jordan Chunn, who sat out much of the year last year due to injury. In the two games that he played in, Chunn had seven carries for 39 yards and one touchdown. Chunn’s contributions from the backfield will be crucial for Troy to win more of its close games.
Aside from an important road test at Clemson in week two, the Trojans look to have all the tools necessary to remain competitive and win games this season.
Protecting Silvers and Chunn is senior offensive tackle Antonio Garcia, who was named to the Outland Award Watch List, the annual award for best interior offensive/defensive lineman. Garcia will need to step up in a big way in order to give life to Troy’s lackluster run game from last year.
The Trojans take on the Governors of Austin Peay in a home season opener, which is scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. on Sept. 3.