The Troy University football team kicks off its season opener Saturday against Campbell University. With the absence of some key figures involved in the passing game, Troy’s strengths for this game could revolve around the wide receivers and the secondary.
The Trojans graduated a solid group of receivers, including Sidney Davis and Damion Willis, who is set to start this season for the Cincinnati Bengals. The two combined for 1213 yards and 12 touchdowns last season alone, 43% of Troy’s passing yardage and 49% of Troy’s passing touchdowns.
In Kaleb Barker’s six games, he completed 92 passes for 1013 yards and a 73% completion rate. His numbers were just 500 yards and four touchdowns shy of Sawyer Smith’s numbers over 13 games.
Barker has proven that he is able to make big plays in the air. Along with him, Troy’s few returning faces, Tray Eafford and Luke Whittemore, and newer faces, Reggie Todd and Sam Letton, could be crucial in the success of the Trojans.
With the potential to make plays in the air comes the need to be able to defend the pass. Much like the wide receivers, Troy lost vital members of the secondary including safety Cedarius Rookard and cornerbacks Marcus Jones and Blace Brown.
The three combined for eight interceptions and 25 passes defended, 42% of Troy’s interceptions and 40 percent of Troy’s passes defended.
The Trojans will turn to Melvin Tyus, Kyle Nixon and O’shai Fletcher in the strong and free safety and cornerback position for defensive production in the secondary.
However, the defense retains its stronger leaders as Head Coach Chip Lindsey announced Melvin Tyus and Jarvis Hayes (bandit) as captains in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
Lindsey made it evident when asked about the key players on the defensive side that it all starts with Hayes and Tyus, understandably so after losing Rookard, Jones and Brown.
After losing many crucial components on both sides of the passing game, the Trojans have promising players stepping into The Vet on Saturday.