Friday, September 22, 2017

25 Questions from the Middle

What is their body of work?

The Blue Raiders have experienced modest success over the past five years.  They have won 8 games in 3 of those 5 years and never won fewer than six and played in 3 bowl games.  This year they are 1-2, with losses at home to Vanderbilt and @Minnesota, with injury issues in the second game.  They beat Syracuse 30-23 in the Carrier Dome.

Last year they beat BG 41-21 in the Deluge at the Doyt.  BG turned the ball over 4 times and lost despite have only 3 yards fewer than MTSU.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They have 25.  This is a young team.  A lot of sophomores are in the rotation.

Who are their statistical leaders?

They have no one in the top 20 in any statistical category.

What is their turnover ratio?

They are +1 this year.


How is their QB play expected to be?

This is an open question.  If Stockstill plays and is healthy, he's a really good QB.  His backup is just not as good, which is expected.  Hard to lose a guy like that and have someone just as good in the wings.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

Last year, this was a big offense, the #12 scoring offense in the nation.  However, this year they have been held in single digits twice...once in the Minnesota game, but also against Vanderbilt in the opener.  For this year, they are scoring 13 PPG and 4.4 yards per play, both of which are poor.

Can they run the ball?

They are struggling to run the ball.  This is a big fall-off.  Last year they had the 2nd best runner in their conference, but he graduated and a true SO (Ty Lee) is getting most of their carries and averaging 2.2 yards per carry.  And he's a converted fact, was one of the top FR WR in the country last year.

Do they pass the ball?

They have.  Frankly, even when Stockstill has been in they have struggled.  His QBR of 127 would be right in the middle of the FBS.  His first two years it was over 150.  He's completing less than 60% with 4 TDs and 2 INT.  Also, Richie James, their star WR is injured, but has been less effective this season.  And they probably miss Ty Lee.

How was their run/pass balance?

Eesh.  Sack adjusted they run the ball on 37% of their plays.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

Not so far.  They are last in FBS at 16%.

Do they score in the red zone?

Negative.  They have only been in the redzone 4 times in three games and have 2 TDs to show for it.

Do they protect the quarterback?

It is average.  They have given up sacks on 6% of their pass plays.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They give up 4.6 yards per play, yet allow 28 points per game.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are effective against the run, allowing only 3.2 yards per carry.

Can they be passed on?

They are a good pass defense.  Not great.  They allow 64% completions but only 10 yards per catch and only 3 TDs over 1 INT.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are right on the average at 39%.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are pretty good at 4.5 points per trip.

Did they pressure the QB?

Yes, they do.  This will be an issue for BG.  They get sacks on 8% of their attempts.

Special Teams:


They are pretty good.  They are #47 in the country in net punting.

Punt Return?

This all depends.  If James is in, then they are dangerous.  Also, they have a big section in the game notes about their kick blocking prowess.  None so far this year.


They have tried only one FG and it was good for 45.  He's good though, has made 15 of his last 16.


They are good.  Average start on the 22.

Kickoff Return?

They are average, starting on their own 25.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

First, I don't think this is as good a team as we saw last year.  They just don't have as many weapons when healthy and its worse if they aren't healthy.

However, they won on the road against Syracuse and we lost at home against South Dakota...and they've still got to be the favorites in this game, especially at home.

There are huge wildcards here.  You don't know about their health and you don't know about our QB.  Will BG get a "spark" from Doege (the expected choice?)  Or will he struggle, which is what you would fairly expect in your first start.

There's reason to watch, for sure.  ESPN says MTSU is 81% likely to win, but there's only a 7-point spread.

Bottom line:  this game is still uphill, but not as uphill as when the season started.

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