Troy making changes as spring practice rolls on

Published 11:54 pm Thursday, March 22, 2012

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that changes are taking place defensively for Troy.

A unit that finished 113 of 120 teams in total defense was in need of a little rebuilding.

While the Trojans scheme in general hasn’t changed much, Jacoby Thomas has seen his role increase drastically.

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Thomas will play as a blend between defensive end and linebacker, giving Troy more of an athletic body to rush the passer, defend the run or drop back into coverage.

“It’s something we’ve never done before at Troy,” Thomas said. “It gives us a new look, something different to show offenses.”

The Trojans will continue to run a 4-3 scheme but with Thomas, who is 5-foot-11, 248 pounds, utilized as the fourth lineman.

“We’re hoping to mix it up and cause some problems for offenses,” Thomas said. “We know what we didn’t do last year and needs to be done this year.”

Though practice was delayed on Thursday due to lightning, head coach Larry Blakeney was excited to get the team back into pads and see a little more contact.

“You can find out a lot about individuals when they’re in pad an engaging other guys,” he said. “There are a lot of guys out here for the first time that are anxious to prove themselves and some guys returning looking to reestablish themselves.”

Blakeney also praised new cornerbacks coach Julius Brown, who was officially announced to the position on Thursday though he has been participating in practice since spring began.

“I think he’s made a hit with the players and is working them hard,” Blakeney said. “The safeties and corners will get double the reps and more concentrated work.”

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell, who worked with all defensive backs last season, will have the safeties to himself this year.

“It’s good that we can break that up and get them more individual attention,” said Blakeney. “They have two different responsibilities when it comes to their job on the field and we need to coach them that way.”

Also, Randy Butler will coach the entire defensive line. Butler was responsible for the defensive ends last season.

Troy will host its T-Day game March 31.