Troy secondary looking to shut down opponents in 2013

Published 9:32 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Troy’s struggles on the defensive side of the football have been well documented over the last two seasons. Ask any player, however, and all of that is about to change.

Enter Wayne Bolt.

Bolt led the Trojan defense through its difficult transition to Division I. During that time Troy played some of college football’s toughest opponents and though the Trojans struggled at times, they seemed to compete in every game.

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From 1997 to 2002, Troy’s defense was one respected around college football under Bolt’s direction. In 2002, Troy’s second season a FBS member, the team finished just 4-8 but the defense ranked fourth nationally and 13th against the run.

As the game changed and the Sun Belt Conference evolved, more pressure was placed on teams’ secondary. In 2011, Troy ranked 101st against the pass allowing 261.4 yards per game. Last season, the unit was 97th giving up 258.4 yards per game through the air.

While the game has changed, Bolt feels the fundamentals have remained the same.

“The kids are taking coaching and getting used to us as coaches and trusting what we’re telling them,” Bolt said. “I think there has to be a better sense of urgency. Getting the call from the sideline, getting lined up and executing the play. That applies to every position. You have to have good communication.”

The intense attitude that Bolt and the defensive coaches have displayed this spring has already made significant impressions on the players.

“We know that every single day we have to come out here and get better. There are team all across the country getting better everyday and we have to get better too or we’ll fall behind,” said junior cornerback Ethan Davis. “The coaches want everything to be full speed even if you mess up. The intensity that they have brought has really been a blessing to this team.”

Dustin Landry assumed the role of secondary coach this off-season and has complimented Bolt’s mentality well. Randy Butler and Benjy Parker return as defensive coaches and will also play a crucial role in the resurgence of the Troy defense.

“We’re trying to get back to way Troy defense used to be. Troy has never been known for having a poor defense. The coaches are showing a commitment to improvement of the defensive side of the ball,” said senior safety Chris Pickett. “We’re going to put our best 11 players out there and we’re going to be better there the other team’s best 11. These coaches have been teaching more. They are showing us why we play a certain defense, why we use a certain technique and basically why we do the things we do. It’s getting back to the basics.”

Pickett and Hudson slowed by injury

Troy safeties Chris Pickett and Cameron Hudson will be held out of all contact drills after each underwent shoulder surgery during the off-season.

Pickett, a senior, started eight games for the Trojans last season ad made 61 total tackles. Hudson is entering his senior season as well. Last year, Hudson made five starts but played in all 12 games. Hudson recorded 50 tackles and recovered two fumbles. Coaches expect the pair to return to full speed for fall practice.

Keion Payne, a Hutchinson Community College transfer who originally signed with the University of Miami, is also sitting out spring practice with a shoulder injury.