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Don’t Let Troy’s Air Raid Fool You

Troy’s key to a Sun Belt title will come on the ground.

Troy v Clemson Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images

When Troy brought on Neal Brown to run the show after the 2014 season, most people thought the Trojans would be throwing the ball around the park in the Air Raid offense. Troy has done that, but the key to their immediate success has been the effectiveness of their ground game.

The Trojans have been surprisingly physical in their first two seasons under Brown and fifth-year senior Jordan Chunn has provided most of that punch. The bruising tailback out of Gurley, Alabama has been a bell cow ever since he stepped on campus and had a breakthrough season last year as he recorded nearly 1,400 yards and a Sun Belt-leading 16 touchdowns. With 1,100 yards this season, Chunn will become the program’s all-time leading rusher. The Trojans will need Chunn to be even better this fall as they replace three offensive line starters, including future NFL draft pick Antonia Garcia who is being projected to come off the board in the third round.

Building Depth

The key for the Troy offense this season will be providing a capable backup for Chunn. Chunn will be entering his fifth season as the lead guy in the Troy backfield and the big guy (6’1” 231 lbs.) will need some help. Josh Anderson (another bruising tailback) only logged 56 carries next to Chunn’s 279 last year. Chunn ran out of gas towards the end of the season and that may have kept Troy from bringing home their first Sun Belt title since 2010. Chunn failed to top 100 yards in the Trojans’ last four games and that may have been the biggest cause for November losses to Arkansas State and Georgia Southern.

NCAA Football: Navy at Memphis
Henderson is Troy’s x-factor in 2017.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

It is imperative that Brown and offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield find someone to help Chunn and keep the Troy running game respectable. The belief is Troy has found this in Memphis transfer Jamarius Henderson.

Henderson sat out last season but put up some impressive numbers in his freshman year at Memphis (60 carries, 320 yards, 5.3 ypc, 4TDs). Henderson also has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as he had seven receptions and two touchdowns in his only season playing in the AAC. With his hometown being less than a an hour from the Troy campus, it was an easy sell for Brown & Co. to land this impact transfer.

Henderson will provide a third down back dimension that Troy has not had since Brown arrived on campus. This will make his offense even more explosive and provide one more big play weapon to a roster stacked with perimeter playmakers. Troy led the Sun Belt in scoring last season and those numbers could get a significant bump this upcoming season with the addition of Henderson.

This Troy offense took a big step forward in 2017 as Chunn emerged as the most physically imposing back in the conference and QB Brandon Silvers became a capable passer in the pocket. Troy is loaded at receiver and they return all of the production from 2016. With the emergence of Henderson, this offense suddenly becomes super scary and explosive. The Trojans could be sitting on a powder keg entering the fall and should put up points on anyone they face. There are questions to answer up front, but it’s hard to imagine this not being the best offense in the Sun Belt.