Troy and Duke prepare to face off in the Birmingham Bowl with interim coaches leading the teams in the transition period between coaching changes. The schools have already hired their successors, adding an additional layer of anticipation to the game.
Coaching Changes and Successors
Troy and Duke will compete in the Birmingham Bowl under the leadership of interim coaches, following the departure of Mike Elko to Texas A&M and Jon Sumrall to Tulane. The teams have already secured their new head coaches, with Duke bringing in Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and Troy hiring Notre Dame offensive coordinator Gerad Parker.
Team Dynamics Amidst Changes
Despite the coaching changes, players from both teams remain unified and focused as they prepare for the upcoming game. Troy’s 10 consecutive wins and a second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship might serve as a significant motivation for the Trojans, while the Blue Devils aim to reach eight wins in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2014-15.
Interim coaches Trooper Taylor for Duke and Greg Gasparato for Troy are leading their respective teams through the transitional period. With Taylor’s high energy and jovial nature, the Blue Devils continue their preparations under his guidance, while Gasparato leads a defense for Troy that ranks highly in scoring and rushing defense nationally.
Duke has turned to freshman Grayson Loftis as their starting quarterback, following Riley Leonard’s departure to Notre Dame. Loftis, who has demonstrated efficiency and growth, emphasizes the importance of being authentic and gaining the trust of his teammates. His adaptation to the role has been supported by veteran teammates.
Key Players and Records
Troy’s Javon Solomon leads a formidable pass rush, setting both conference and national records, while Duke’s defense faces the challenge of containing Kimani Vidal, the prolific running back for Troy. Both teams are riding impressive bowl winning streaks, adding an extra layer of excitement to the upcoming Birmingham Bowl.