New head coach Neal Brown has only been at Troy for a little over a month, but he definitely hasn’t been twiddling his thumbs during the offseason.
Since Brown’s hiring back on Dec. 1, he has announced the hiring of new assistant head coach Jon Sumrall, co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Moore, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, and offensive assistant coach Cornelius Williams.
Koenning has previously helped coach at Troy during the 2003-2004 season and Williams played for the Trojans as a wide receiver during Brown’s first time at Troy as the offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2009.
“We’ve got a renewed energy within our program,” said Brown. “The guys I’ve been fortunate enough to hire are really good people, first. They’re really good teachers; they’re guys that really care about developing young men.”
Returning coaches include co-offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield, cornerbacks coach Al Pogue, and assistant coaches Sean Reagan and Shayne Wasden.
As for the players, Brown wants to bring accountability and discipline into the academic side of things and wants the team to represent Troy University in the correct way.
Strength and conditioning is the main focus for Brown during the offseason before spring ball gets started up on March 24.
“We’ve gotta instill a toughness, in body and mind that you can only do in the weight room during the offseason program,” Brown said.
With National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 4, approaching fast, Brown and his staff has assessed over the break what players are needed and how to go about recruiting players that fit Troy University.
Brown’s search pool for potential Trojans is Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. While preferring to sign students from high school, Brown is willing to add junior college players who fit Troy’s football program.
As an offensive coordinator, Brown has been known to increase a team’s average points per game. He credits this success to always being surrounded by a great staff and outstanding players.
“And then there’s belief,” Brown said. “We’ve been confident in what we’re doing. We believe in not only each other from a staff and player standpoint, but belief in our system, belief in our preparation. I think any time you have belief and hope you have a chance.”
Returning to Troy now as the head coach, Brown explained that the biggest difference for him is from the staffing standpoint. He now finds himself responsible for filling off the field and on the field roles.
“The thing I’m looking forward to probably the most in the head coaching position is really creating a culture or creating an environment that I want our players and our staff to live in every single day,” Brown said.
Brown’s ideal environment is fun, where people look forward to coming in and has positive energy. He hopes to not only create a family atmosphere, where relationships are built on love, trust, and open communication, but also have a competitive culture.
“We keep score every game,” Brown said. “There’s not any ties allowed in college football anymore. So there’s a winner and loser, and we’ve gotta feed that competitive nature every single day.”
The last attitude that Brown wants is continuous improvement.
“If we constantly live with those five things all around us, then we’re going to build ourselves into a championship program,” Brown said.
As for finding a balance between the pass and run game, Brown intends to play to the team’s strengths, but he stressed the important of running the football and to stop the run on defense.
Brown sees his time in Kentucky under head coach Mark Stoops as a great form of groundwork for the role that he has now because Stoops at the time was a first time head coach so he was able to see how Stoops went about his job.
“I got to see how he formed his brand, how he sent his message down from his staff to his players,” Brown said. “All the roles, all the hats you have to wear as a head coach, from a motivator to a fundraiser to a game manager. Being able to watch him go through that process was something that really prepared me for being in this role.”
From his previous time at Troy, Brown learned from former head coach Larry Blakeney that it is all about the players and how you treat them.
“Anytime with players, they don’t really care what you know until you show them that you care,” Brown said. “Sometimes motivation is not necessarily generated by pregame speeches or by locker room antics or how you handle your practice environment. A lot of the time it’s about building relationships.”
Because this is what Brown believes, he is currently getting to know his team not only as players, but as students and people and his goal is that they graduate and become better men while they are here.