Team preview: Troy

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(All information as of July 1, 2005)


Last year was a good year to be a Trojan. As USC marched to the top of the college football world for the second year in a row, the other men of Troy announced their arrival onto the Division I-A scene.

Troy rode a punishing defense to a seven-win season and a trip to the school's first bowl game since making the jump from I-AA in 2001. It was a great moment for coach Larry Blakeney, who has overseen the program's rise from Division II to D-I.

Blakeney has made Troy a winner at every level. During the Trojans' time in I-AA, he guided them to a 76-23-1 record, taking them to the I-AA playoffs seven times. After making the move to I-A in 2001, Troy has been solid, going 24-23.

The 2004 season was the Trojans' first in the Sun Belt. Although the offensive production left a lot to be desired, Troy was able to win five games in conference play on the strength of a powerful defense, led by senior defensive end Demarcus Ware.

Ware was a handful for opposing offenses, and his performance impressed the Dallas Cowboys enough to select him with the 11th pick in the NFL draft. While the high selection puts him in a class by himself, he was by no means the only Trojan starter who left after last season.

The Trojans find themselves having to replace 15 starters, eight on offense and seven on defense. It will be a tall task, especially because the departures leave them looking vulnerable along the offensive and defensive lines.