Troy’s first-year Head Coach Chip Lindsey will be joined by Ryan Pugh and Brandon Hall, both serving in their first year as sole coordinators. That said, neither Pugh nor Hall are lacking in experience.
The Neal Brown holdover, Coach Brandon Hall, will take the reigns as the defensive coordinator. Most recently, Hall served as the outside linebackers/special teams coach for Brown and the Trojans in 2018.
His other stints include four years as co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach for Jacksonville State, a defense that ranked top 20 nationally in each season and finished a perfect 31-0 in Ohio Valley Conference Play during those four years.
Additionally, Hall coached safeties at Arkansas State in 2012 under Gus Malzahn. He followed Malzahn to Auburn as a defensive analyst in 2013 during their national championship run. Note, this is the same season in which Lindsey served as offensive analyst for Malzahn and the Tigers.
A guy familiar with the system, Hall looks to build on the 2018 season in which Troy ranked as one of the top defenses in the conference, averaging 22 points allowed per game. Only App State and Georgia Southern were better, in this regard.
Hall understands the existing scheme and should be able to transition smoothly into his new role. Do not be surprised to see Troy once again vying to be one of the top ranked defenses in the Sun Belt.
It won’t come easy as Troy’s final two games of the season are at Louisiana-Lafayette and at home against App State, the top two offenses in the Sun Belt in 2018.
Troy will also face the number four and number five offenses in Georgia Southern and Arkansas State, as well as a road game against the Missouri Tigers.
Coach Hall and the Trojans will have their work cut out for them on the defensive side of the ball in 2019.
As for the offense, Lindsey hired Ryan Pugh to replace Matt Moore as offensive coordinator for the Trojans. Most recently, Pugh served as BYU’s offensive line coach.
Prior to that, Pugh worked two seasons at the University of Texas at San Antonio spending time at LSU, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, and Auburn.
Not to mention, Pugh was a four-year letterwinner at Auburn, three-time All-SEC selection, All-American honoree in 2010, and the starting center for the national championship team in 2010.
Still, there is a question as to how much freedom Pugh will have with the offense. Having been an offensive line guy through and through, Coach Pugh will likely be the run game coordinator while Lindsey handles the passing game and ultimately the play-calling for the Trojans’ offense.
The Trojans ranked third in points per game in the Sun Belt last year (30.7), third in passing yards per game (215.3), and sixth in rushing yards per game (174.1).
That said, the Trojans draw the four worst defenses from the Sun Belt in 2018 in South Alabama, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Coastal Carolina, each allowing over 33 points per game last season.
With a healthy Kaleb Barker under center and B.J. Smith at running back, who was recently named SBC preseason offensive player of the year, the Trojans have a chance to put up some big numbers on offense in 2019.
For the Trojans to make a legitimate run at the Sun Belt title, they will need both sides of the ball to be firing on all cylinders. Game planning is key. In the end, however, Pugh and Hall need to be able to make in-game adjustments to what they see on the field. This may present a challenge for the two first-year coordinators and first-year head coach.
With an App State team expected to have their way once again in the conference, it will take a near perfect season from Lindsey’s guys to capture that number 1 spot in the East, leaving them with a shot at the conference championship before bowl season.