Who are the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

A preview of BYU vs Middle Tennessee State University

In the next installment of our opponent preview, we will take a look at the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders:

2013 Record: 8-5 (6-2 in Conference USA)

2014 Game Information: Saturday November 1st, 2014 1:30 Mountain Time CBS Sports Network

Previous Game Recap: BYU won 37-10

BYU got off to a slow start, but eventually gained control in this game and went on to dominate the final three quarters and turn in a convincing victory. The Blue Raiders went ahead early and was able to finish the 1st Quarter with a 10-7 lead over BYU. Kyle Van Noy was able to force a safety early in the second quarter to open the floodgates for the Cougars. Taysom Hill ended up rushing for 165 yards on 18 carries and throwing for 177 and completing 14/19 of his passes. BYU had two crucial turnovers inside the red zone that really could have turned into 14 more points for the Cougars. The BYU defense was really the star of the game, dominating every statistical category and earning the praise of the entire MTSU coaching staff.

Coaching Staff:

Rick Stockstill is the head coach of the Blue Raiders and has been for several seasons now. He carries a 51-49 overall record at MTSU and has been the two-time Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. He has built a significant amount of good will in Murfreesboro due to his consistent teams and from loyalty to the school. He was offered the head coaching jobs at Memphis and East Carolina after his 2009 campaign but turned them down so he could remain building the program at MTSU.

Offense:

Do not be too surprised if the Blue Raiders offense looks a little different than last year. Long time pro-style QB Logan Kilgore graduated and the roster has a stable of more athletic read-option QBs looking to replace him. One of these QBs is Freshman Brent Stockstill (son of Head Coach Rick Stockstill), but the favorite is most likely Austin Grammer because he has the most in-game experience. Speedy running back Reggie Whatley will complement power rusher Jordan Parker in the offensive backfield, and leading receiver Marcus Henry returns as well.

Defense:

MTSU boasted one of the nation’s best turnover inducing defenses in the country last year, they were 5th overall in forced turnovers which gave the team a +12 margin for the year. T.T. Barber is a returning star player that does it all for the Blue Raiders (think of him as their KVN). Taysom Hill and the rest of the Cougars offense will need to be aware of where he is at all times if they want to find success in Murfreesboro.

X Factor:

It seems that the defensive side of the ball is the Blue Raiders strong suit. The explosiveness of the offense is the question that needs to be answered as they move forward. So the X Factor is whatever QB comes out of camp listed as the starter on the depth chart. If their QB can move the ball on the Cougar defense then they have a chance to pull off the upset.

Bold Predictions:

BYU should win this game if they do not play horribly, but be careful not to sleep on this team. They have an experienced coaching staff and strong core of returning starters on the defensive side of the ball. If the Cougars want to make a splash on the national scene this will be a crucial statement game for them. This could be a real opportunity to impress some voters (not only for rankings, but for national awards). Final Prediction: 42-10 BYU

Interesting Facts:

(because to defeat one’s opponent one must know one’s opponent)

The school’s most popular program is recording industry with concentrations in music business, commercial songwriting, and production technology. It has five recording studios on campus that remain open 24 hours a day.

The university owns a decommissioned Boeing 727 that is parked at the Murfreesboro Airport that is used for flight training for the students majoring in aerospace. The plane is not flight worthy, but can start its engines for training purposes.

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