Troy defense bending, not breaking early in 2013

Published 9:40 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The return of Wayne Bolt to the Troy coaching staff in 2013 made Trojan fans young and old, giggle with excitement.

During his first stint at Troy, in 1997, he was promoted to defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Trojans. Bolt’s defenses were extremely successful at Troy. In 2002, in only the second season competing at the NCAA I-A level, the Trojans produced one of the nation’s top defenses under Bolt’s guidance. The Trojans ranked 4th nationally in total defense, yielding only 276.8 yards per game. The unit ranked 13th in rushing defense (105.3 yards per game), 30th in scoring defense (21.0 ppg) and 33rd in pass efficiency defense (112.42).

In 2013, Bolt’s defense has given up 34 total points in two games, but has not allowed an opponents drive inside the red zone this season.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Despite the results, Bolt sees room to improvement.

“Going into the first game, after the first game, the deep balls were alarming, being able to make a play on the deep balls,” Bolt said. “ Of course, we were better in the second game and didn’t give up any. Being able to contain the run and not giving up the big play, whether it be run or pass, against Arkansas State, because they’re very potent. They have great wide outs, McKissic, Thomas, even Oku, they throw the ball to Oku. He had six catches last week. They pose some problems both in the run and pass. You have to be able to handle both. You have to be able to do that.”

The rebuilt Troy defensive line and linebackers has performed well so far in 2013, allowing on average about 61 yards rushing a game.

Bolt said that he has been impressed with the play of the front seven so far because of being able to rest the starters quite a bit.

“We’re deep up front. We’re playing 2-deep,” Bolt said. “Now we have Aaron Williams back, and he’s come in there. We’re 2-deep-plus and we’re able to rest them, and they’re playing well. They’ve made a lot of plays and caused a lot of havoc. We’ve had a good pass rush because, I think, Randy Butler has done a great job of getting them in there and getting them rested. It’s a situation that, especially up front on defense, where there’s so much going on, we’re able to substitute a lot. That’s definitely a plus.”

The strong start to the season, has many, Bolt included, excited about the season and what could possibly lay in store.

Bolt said that he loves how his players make the most of every opportunity to get better.”

“I see them growing every day, doing the little things,” Bolt said. “We talk about doing the little things as far as attention to detail, attention to detail. Whether it be in the weightroom or be not being late to class. They’ve done a great job with it, and it all translates to the field. Attention to detail. We’re not perfect, but we got better. If we can get better every game, we have a chance.”

Troy opens Sun Belt play Thursday night against Arkansas State.

Kick off is set for 6:30, and the game can be seen on ESPNU.