Craddock excited about 2023 offense

Published 8:26 am Tuesday, August 8, 2023

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Through the first week of fall camp, Troy offensive coordinator Joe Cradock has been impressed with what he’s seen from his offensive unit.

In Craddock’s first year as the offensive coordinator at Troy, the offense averaged 26 points per game, 116 yards rushing per game, 243 yards passing per game and 359 yards total per game. Though the Trojans will have to replace some key players – both up front and at receiver – Craddock has liked what he’s seen in fall camp.

“We’re a lot further ahead of where we were last year at this time,” Craddock said after Monday’s practice. “I think we have a lot of guys making plays. We have a group of new guys coming in that are stepping up to help provide depth on our team.

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“I’m really excited about where we are right now. We have a long way to go but we’re doing some really good things. Through five days we got just about everything (installed), which is great. Now, we just have to fine tune some things and move on from there.”

Despite the loss of All-Sun Belt linemen Austin Stidham and Jake Andrews, Craddock pointed to his offensive line as being a unit that has impressed during the fall.

“I think some of the guys that were here last year have really stepped up. A guy like Derrick Graham really comes to mind,” Craddock said. “He was our offensive player of the week last week and he’s doing a really great job for us. Newcomers like Eli (Russ) are doing a great job.

“Boaz (Stanley) is really stepping up for us. He’s showing up a little more in training camp than he did in the spring. Blake Austin is a guy that was really close to getting Newcomer of the Week but had to miss some practices because of sickness. He really has shown up and has been impressive. Everything starts with those guys up front. I tell them all the time that we’ll only be as good as those guys up front are.”

Troy also has to replace the production of receivers like RaJae’ Johnson and Tez Johnson and Craddock is finding plenty to like out of his current group there, as well.

“I’m really excited about the weapons we have,” he said. “Some guys that were just okay in the spring have really stepped up. A lot of the new guys had a great summer, so they’ve kind of learned the culture of our team and have really worked their butts off. You see a lot of those guys stepping up. Chris Lewis is making a lot of plays and was our Newcomer of the Week for us last week.

“Landon Parker is making a lot of plays. True freshmen like MJ (Johnson) and Jordan Lovett are making plays for us. Ethan Conner has been big, you can’t forget him. Those new guys are doing a good job but the veteran guys have also been steady. A year and a half in the system with those guys and it shows. We have to get the young guys and the newcomers caught up a little bit in the intricate details of the offense but I’m very excited bout the weapons we have on offense. It will be a tough job for us coaches to spread the ball around because we have a lot of guys that can make plays this year.”