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October 4, 2013

Preview: MT vs ECU

PREVIEW: MIDDLE TENNESSEE VS EAST CAROLINA:

This Saturday, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (3-2, 1-0) will take on the East Carolina Pirates (3-1, 1-0) in their first C-USA home game. MT will be looking to rebound after a tough loss against BYU. A win would also keep the Blue Raiders undefeated in C-USA play, which would give them a good lead in the East Division. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. and the game is set to air on FSS.

Last week, the Blue Raiders traveled to Provo, Utah, for the first time ever to take on a tough BYU team. The Blue Raider offense looked like they came to play in the first quarter as they were able to put 10 points on the board against a stout Cougar defense, but after that opening quarter, the Blue Raider offense became inept and did not put another point on the board.

The defense tried to control QB Taysom Hill and did at times, forcing five turnovers on the night, but it still was not enough as the Cougars would put up 37 unanswered points and en route to the 37-10 victory.

As for the ECU Pirates, they took on instate rival North Carolina last Saturday in a game that they completely dominated from start to finish. ECU jumped out to the early 14-0 lead and never looked back from there. The Pirates totaled 603 yards while putting up 55 points as they handled UNC, 55-31.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

The Key to the Game for the Blue Raider offense this week will be to get the passing game going, something that has shockingly been the least productive part of the Blue Raiders game so far this season. To date, the offense has averaged just 185 yards per game through the air while accumulating just six touchdowns and seven interceptions. The offensive line has not been much help, either, as they have allowed 10 sacks on the season, nearly more than they allowed in the last two seasons combined.

The offense will be going up against a pass defense that has played questionable of late, something that should play in MT's favor. ECU has allowed an average of 301 yards per game through the air and has given up 10 passing touchdowns while snagging just four interceptions. If there were ever a week that QB Logan Kilgore could step up and figure some things out with his receivers, this would be that week. If not, then it might be time to start thinking about making a change at the position.

The Key to the Game for the defense this week will center on stopping ECU QB Shane Carden, who has been playing lights out all season for the Pirates. The game plan is pretty simple, but it is much easier said than done. On the season, Carden has averaged 293 passing yards per game and nearly three touchdowns per game. Those are some impressive stats, but the most impressive stat for Carden would be his 73 percent completion percentage, which is incredible given the amount of passes he throws.

The Blue Raider secondary, who have been playing better each week, will have to step up their coverage again this week or they will get picked apart by a QB that can sling it around. They could also use the help of some timely turnovers, which has been a big plus for a defense this season. Through five games, MT has gathered a total of 16 turnovers.

PREDICTION: MT 20, ECU 49:

Middle Tennessee will be playing their first Homecoming contest as a member of C-USA, but I expect that ECU will have Blue Raider fans wanting to head home early on Saturday. The Pirates are one of the better teams, if not the best team, in the conference, and they have one of the more prolific offenses, which will cause havoc for the Blue Raider defense.

Although ECU has some holes on their defense, I look for Kilgore and the offense to continue to struggle. For whatever reason, things just are not clicking for the senior signal caller and his receiving corps. With pressure mounting, I just do not see them getting over the hump this week, which will have many pleading for a change at the helm.

MT will keep this one close for the first half, but I believe ECU will erupt in the second half and leave the Blue Raiders in the dust.



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