TROY, Alabama – Coming off the nation’s best turnaround, the Troy football team opens spring practice Thursday at 4:30 p.m. on the practice fields behind Trojan Arena. The Trojans posted a 10-3 record last season en route to an Associated Press Top 25 ranking and a Dollar General Bowl championship.
The Trojans will scrimmage twice during the spring leading up to T-Day on April 15 at 12 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Stadium. Troy's annual Friday Night Lights scrimmage will take place on March 31 at 4 p.m. in the Vet and the second scrimmage will take place on April 8 in conjunction with Alumni Weekend.
Troy opens the 2017 season with a highly-anticipated matchup at Boise State on Sept. 2 before opening its six-game home slate the following week against Alabama State.
All of Troy’s spring practices are open to the public. The Trojans will practice for the second time this spring on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. on the practice fields before moving to Veterans Memorial Stadium.
• Several Trojans will have new positions going into the spring with three players moving from offense to defense – wide receiver Dominic Walker has moved to linebacker, while wide receivers Justin Wyatt and Adarius Wesley have moved to safety.
• A pair of defensive players will have new homes as defensive end Sam Lebbie moves back to linebacker and defensive tackle Seth Calloway moves outside to defensive end.
• Senior quarterback Brandon Silvers will miss spring practice after suffering a hand injury in the offseason.
Troy Head Coach Neal Brown
The way we approach spring ball is that these are the first 15 practices of our 2017 season. We’ve had a solid winter program, but the challenge for us as a football program is to continue to grow. We went 10-3, but we are not celebrating a championship. Our basketball teams won conference championships, we haven’t done that yet and we must take the next step.
We have to run the football better, we’ve got to defend the pass better and we need some young guys step up, and these 15 practices are going to be a big deal. I think it’s always harder to go from good to great than it is from being below average to a little above average and that is the challenge for our guys.
We know our kids better, but we’ve got to challenge them more this spring that we have in the previous two because now we go from doing the hunting to being the hunted. When you carry that target on your back, you’re going to get everyone’s “A” game. We don’t ease into our schedule this year – we open on the blue turf at Boise State. That’s going to be a huge challenge but also a huge opportunity for our program.
We bring back 17 starters off last year’s team, but we have some holes to fill and maybe the biggest on our whole football team is at place kicker and punter with Ryan Kay gone. I feel pretty solid at our punting position, but we need somebody to step up at kicker, whether it’s Bratcher Underwood or somebody else. We’re replacing our two long snappers as well who go unnoticed until something goes bad.
On defense, we lose four senior linebackers that played over 95 percent of the snaps last year. I really like the talent that we have there, but we need some seasoning. Also, we need to improve our entire secondary play. We lacked depth at safety last year, and we’ve got to grow some depth at all four secondary positions.
Offensively, we’ve got to replace our best player, who was Antonio Garcia. He was a guy for four years who protected the quarterback’s back side and that’s a huge role, maybe as important as any in the program – we’ve got some options there with some athletic guys, but they need to step up.