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September 13, 2013

Preview: MT vs Memphis

PREVIEW: MIDDLE TENNESSEE VS MEMPHIS:

This Saturday, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (1-1) will host the Memphis Tigers (0-1) inside Floyd Stadium as they look for their third win in a row over the Tigers. Kickoff is set for 6:00 PM and the game will be broadcast live on CSS.

Last week, the Blue Raiders went on the road to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in a matchup against one-time MT coordinator turned head coach, Larry Fedora. The offense came out hot, making their way down field with ease until a turnover in the endzone ended their drive and really served as an omen of things to come. From that point on, the offense never really got it going until late in the game when the contest was already determined. The Tar Heels would go on to beat the Blue Raiders, 40-20.

As for Memphis, they took on an ACC squad last week when they opened their season at Duke. The first half of the game was dominated by each defense, as both teams would score just one time in the opening frame. The second half, however, was another story as Duke would outscore the Tigers 21-7 en route to a 28-14 victory. Memphis was held to just 237 total yards of offense on the day.

Since 2002, the Blue Raiders lead the series against the Tigers by a 4-to-1 margin.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

I believe all Middle Tennessee fans and coaches could agree with me this week when I say the key to the game this week for the Blue Raiders offense will be to protect the ball and do not beat yourself.

Last week, MT's offense started out hot but after the first turnover, they fizzled out. The offense committed a total of four turnovers on the day, three of them being interceptions thrown by QB Logan Kilgore, who looked like he was forcing throws and trying to do too much at times. The Blue Raiders have now committed a total of six turnovers in the first two games of the season, which does not bode well for their long-term success.

With that said, MT needs to protect the ball much better against a game Tiger defense. Kilgore needs to get back into the game-manager mold while the Blue Raiders rely on their rushing attack to sustain drives and wear down the Tiger defense.

As for the Blue Raiders defense, the key to the game for them will be stepping it up in the secondary and limiting the amount of passing yards that they give up. The defense did not play as bad at North Carolina as the stat sheet suggests, as they kept the game close for the majority of the day and even put up their first defensive score on the year. The biggest problem was that the offense did not do them many favors and put them in some bad spots during the course of the game.

They did, however, give up 511 yards with 377 of those coming by way of the passing attack. The defense also had a tough time getting the Tar Heels off of the field as UNC converted 9-of-16 third downs attempts. The defense will have to improve in the passing game or it is going to be a long season for the boys in blue.

PREDICTION: MIDDLE TENNESSEE 28, MEMPHIS 24:

The Blue Raider rushing attack has been the strength of the offense so far this season and I expect it to be a difference maker in this Saturday's game. Look for RB Jordan Parker to continue his hot start to the season, reaching the century mark for the third time in a row. I believe he could possibly go after his personal best of 156 yards in this game.

On the other side of the ball, I believe the defense could have their best game of the season as they go up against an offense that could not get anything going last week , but Memphis has scored 30-plus points against Middle Tennessee the last two seasons, so the Blue Raiders better be ready. Memphis has a trio of talented receivers that could torch the Blue Raider secondary if their not careful.

I expect Logan Kilgore to bounce back and be the game manager that he is as he leads the Blue Raiders to their third straight victory over Memphis and their second victory of the season in a game that I see being close from start to finish. In the end, I predict the Blue Raiders will take this one though, 28-24.



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