College Football Preview: The 2015 MTSU Blue Raiders
MTSU Blue Raiders Preview
2014 Record: 6-6
Rick Stockstill looks to lead an experienced MTSU Blue Raiders squad back to the postseason.
Overview: Middle Tennessee State returns the majority of their roster in 2015 so on experience alone this should be an improved team. It needs to be especially if the defensive side of the football doesn’t carry their share of the workload.
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Offense: Quarterback Austin Grammer has generally lived up to his three star rating after throwing for over 2,500 yards on 65.4%. However his 17/12 TD/INT ratio wasn’t great while his 26 sacks and five fumbles say he makes mistakes. Leading receiver Ed’Marques Batties (45-474) is back but Marcus Henry and Devin Clarke aren’t although Terry Pettis and Demetrius Frazier are capable second and third options. The Blue Raiders rushing attack will be solid despite the loss of Reggie Whatley (113-767) with Jordan Parker, Shane Tucker and Grammer combining for over 1,600 yards. The offensive line loses All CUSA RT Isaiah Anderson but returns six with starting experience including All CUSA LT Darius Johnson.
Defense: The defense allowed gave up around 31 points which was obviously too much. The defensive line was decent when pressuring the pocket but tended to be pushed around on the ground although if we look at last year’s numbers we see several players have put on significant weight…to help stop the run? TT Barber leads an experienced linebacking unit after 2014 saw him record a team high 61 tackles with 7.5 TFL with a pair of interceptions. SS Kevin Byard led the team with six interceptions and while this unit lost three of their top four corners there looks to be enough returning talent to step in.
Special Teams: The Blue Raiders need to find a punter but place kicker Cody Clark is back after going 7-9 on FG less then 40 yards but just 2-6 on attempts of 40+ yards. Ed’Marques Batties will handle punt returns after averaging 8.6 yards on 15 returns including a TD and might double as kick returner with the departure of Reggie Whatley.
Outlook: Middle Tennessee State is one of the better teams in the CUSA and has a schedule that can be navigated on paper. The offense should be as strong as it was a year ago and the defense has the potential to be better and if it does then MTSU could pose a threat in the conference.