The Trojans hope to begin their 2014 campaign with a victory over in-state rival UAB on Saturday, Aug. 30. The last several meetings between these teams have produced amazing finishes and controversial officiating. The 2014 match looks to be another great game of football.
The Trojans return three offensive linemen and many other key pieces on offense. The question remains, though, who will be lined up behind them? According to the Troy game notes released on troytrojans.com, both the quarterback and running back positions remain open races.
If 2013 is any indication, the running back position will be done via committee. Last season, the tandem of junior Brandon Burks and sophomore Jordan Chunn ensured that one of them got the ball or were targeted over 27 percent of the time, according to sbnation.com.
The more intriguing decision is who coach Larry Blakeney and the coaching staff choose at the quarterback spot. Will it be the more dual-threat-style junior Dontreal Pruitt, the pro-style typical quarterback junior Dallas Tidwell, or will the redshirt freshman who kept gaining ground this offseason, Brandon Silvers?
Whoever is under center will have plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball, but can the Trojan defense help give him some momentum this season?
The Trojan defense never quite pulled it together last season, and in 2014 the Trojans will have few returning starters. Junior defensive end Tyler Roberts will look to anchor the defense and get some much-needed pass rush this weekend against UAB.
The UAB Blazers have had little success on the football field the last few seasons. According to sbnation.com, the Blazers have won only nine games in the last three seasons. In rivalries, though, records never matter.
The Blazers are led by new head coach Bill Clark, who will take over in his first NCAA Division I head coaching job.
Clark has had a successful coaching career in the state, having won two titles as the head coach of Prattville High School. He also led the Jacksonville State Gamecocks to 11 victories in 2013, and that team set 49 school records, according to sbnation.com. Coach Clark is no stranger to the Trojans, as he served as the defensive coordinator for the South Alabama Jaguars in 2012.
Coach Clark focused on running the ball at JSU, and at UAB he will have sophomore Jordan Howard running with senior D.J. Vinson. The Blazers also have a quarterback battle on their depth chart, listed on troytrojans.com. Both Cody Clements and Jeremiah Briscoe are still listed as potential starters.
The Blazer defense has a lot of position battles going on, too, and with a new coaching staff in place it looks like this Saturday may be a proving ground for the Blazers’ defense.
The Trojans will be the favorite going into Saturday’s match, and the past few years show that they deserve that role. However, the Trojans must make sure to be prepared in order to win this Trojan war.