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Troy took a small step forward in Neal Brown's first year as head coach. The Trojans managed four wins overall and three in Sun Belt play. The next logical route for this team is to make a bowl game and that's definitely in the cards with a good amount of returning starters.
At the top of that list is quarterback Brandon Silvers, who completed 61.2% of his passes last year for 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Of course, most of his numbers came in big wins over bad teams, so more consistency will be needed from Silvers in order to better the offense. While they scored a decent 27.9 points per game, the Trojans were far down in the yardage department and not good at running the ball.
A boost to the running game will be the return of Jordan Chunn, who broke his collarbone last year. Chunn was the top backup the previous two seasons. In addition, last year's backup Andre Flakes (243 yards, 3 TDs) will be around to help. Receiver should be set, although will have some new faces. Emanuel Thompson (28 receptions, 299 yards, 3 TDs) has the best numbers of returning wide outs, but a few junior college guys are expected to battle for time.
The offensive line is in a good position as well with five players back that started at least six games last year. At the head of that is all-conference performer Antonio Garcia at left tackle.
Troy's defense saw the most improvement last year, allowing 28.3 points per game, one of the best rates in the Sun Belt. But much like the offense, better teams exploited the defense.
The Trojans lost their best pass rusher, but have plenty of guys that can step up including Rashad Dillard and Terris Lewis at the ends. The unit is filtered with junior college transfers either from this year or a year ago and that's exactly how the defense got better. Experience returns at linebacker, corner and safety with numerous seniors in tow. Auburn transfer Kamryn Melton could surprise at cornerback, as well.
For a better chance at a bowl game and six wins, Troy has two winnable non-conference games (Austin Peay, UMass), something that wasn't the case last year. But to reach four wins in Sun Belt play, it's going to require a couple road wins. Three of those matchups are more than possible with Idaho, South Alabama and Texas State on the slate. At home, wins against NMSU and Georgia State are needed.
The schedule is nice, but 5Dimes has Troy's over/under at 7.5 wins, which seems a bit large. The bets were heavy on the under and that was at -270 in late July.
With Silvers, the offense can be better, but how much? This team struggled extensively against anyone with a winning record last year. Improvement is expected and maybe six wins is on the table, but eight seems a bit far off.
2016 Troy Trojans Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. Austin Peay
Sept. 10 at Clemson
Sept. 17 at Southern Miss
Sept. 24 vs. New Mexico State
Oct. 1 at Idaho
Oct. 15 vs. Georgia State
Oct. 20 at South Alabama
Nov. 5 vs. Massachusetts
Nov. 12 vs. Appalachian State
Nov. 17 vs. Arkansas State
Nov. 26 at Texas State
Dec. 3 at Georgia Southern
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