Challenges ahead

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 13, 2003

Wayne Bolt and Troy State will both have challenges coming into the 2003 football season.

Troy State's challenge is to replace the architect of the "Dead Bolt Defense" that finished ranked No. 4 in the country.

"Whoever comes in here will have a tremendous challenge because Wayne Bolt was here and I will have a tremendous challenge because Wayne Bolt left," Troy State head coach Larry Blakeney said. "I will try to find someone who will fit in well with the players and with the coaches.

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"One thing I am trying to do in assembling the offensive and defensive staffs is make harmony on the staff. Wayne was always big on harmony."

Blakeney said he would begin his search for a replacement immediately to try to finish out the recruiting season. Blakeney did not give any names, but said the person would be from the Southeast and would be fairly familiar with Troy State.

Although Bolt stands to make more gold in the Green and Gold, his challenge is nearly as tough.

The Blazers had a strange defensive setup during the 2002 football season. They did not employ a defensive coordinator after long-time coordinator Rick Christophel was promoted to a position within the athletics department in July.

Instead of a defensive coordinator, UAB employed John Neal as passing defense coordinator and Pat Donohoe as running defense coordinator.

The results were as confusing as the titles.

The Blazers were seventh in Conference USA in scoring defense, allowing 30.8 points per game. Their pass defense surrendered 19 touchdowns while intercepting 15 passes. Their rushing defense gave up 154 yards per game and 21 touchdowns.

That means in 12 regular-season games, the Blazers gave up an average of two rushing touchdowns a game and at least three touchdowns a game.

Bolt proved last season he could make a solid defense at Troy State. The challenge will be to make that defense stand up against a Division I schedule for 12 games.

The Trojans play UAB Sept. 13.