Linebackers Wilson, Coleman-Dancer confident Troy defense will be improved in 2013

Published 8:42 pm Monday, August 26, 2013

Troy has had its fair share of popular linebacker duos. Last year it was Kanorris Davis and Brannon Bryan; preceding them was Bear Woods and Boris Lee. Now, Mark Wilson and Wayland Coleman-Dancer have the opportunity to become the next dynamic duo for the Trojans.

“Since I’ve been here they’ve been great,” said Troy defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt, who was hired in January. “It’s not real surprising that they’ve picked up on the system and done everything we’ve asked them to do.”

The tandem’s drive and athleticism is what head coach Larry Blakeney likes the most.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“They’ve shown to be up to task from an assignment standpoint, from an aggressive standpoint, they’re smart enough to understand coverage. We’ve got some other guys that will play, but those are our guys (starters).”

Wilson, a junior who will anchor the defense at middle linebacker, has the toughest task of the two. He must make the defensive play calls as well as make adjustment depending on the offensive package presented.

“With Coach Bolt, everything changed when he came. I had to learn and throw everything out from last year. In the middle, it’s a whole different technique. You can’t move the same or see things the same in the middle,” said Wilson, who started the final five games of the season at outside linebacker.

Coleman-Dancer, who despite his name says he’s not that great of a dancer, will play weak side linebacker (WLB) and says the primary focus of the defense this season will be forcing turnovers.

“I expect big things. We want a lot more turnovers, a lot of three-and-outs, and come together as a group, as well as the offense and the coaching staff,” he said. “We’re looking to make a lot of noise this year.”

Troy will look to get the season started on the right foot with a win over in-state rival UAB on Saturday, which also happens to be Coleman-Dancer’s birthday.

“It just brings more excitement to the game. It’s already UAB, an in-state rival. It’s another level.”

Wilson says opponents can expect an improved defense from the Trojans this season.

“I can guarantee it, just because of the attitude. That’s where it starts, with the attitude and mental mindset. Not taking anything away from those guys last year, but we didn’t have that attitude, and we have it now,” he said. “With our coaching staff and Coach Bolt, he’s not going to accept anything but our best. We know we have to go out and do that to be successful.”

Despite the heightened expectations, both Wilson and Coleman-Dancer admit they are having more fun than ever before.

“There is a lot expected of us, but it’s a whole lot of fun, too. What’s fun is when we’re out there hitting people, when we’re getting fumbles and interceptions. That’s what defense is all about,” Wilson said.

Troy opens with UAB at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.