The 42-13 loss to Troy Tuesday night confirmed what Blue Raider fans already feared - this is not the 2009 Blue Raiders. They lack the fire, they lack the aggressiveness, and the leadership of the 2009 team, and five games into the season this is becoming increasingly evident.
The 2009 team played with a fire every down. They looked for the big hit, they looked for the big play, and opponents played scared as a result and Middle Tennessee entered most games with an immediate physiological advantage. The defense gave up the big occasional big play as a result of the aggressive blitzes - but it more than made up for it with the tackles for loss, sacks, forced fumbles, and interceptions.
Tony Franklin might have been a little crazy, cocky, or you may question a play call on third and one, but it was hard to question his aggressive play calling. The offense seems to have lost a killer instinct and belief that can score on any play from anywhere on the field. The aggressive vertical passing game has been replaced with a conservative spread offense. The deep in route is out and is replaced by short passes to the flats.
In the preseason, coaches expressed their concerns that the team needed players to step up and become leaders. Five games into the season, reports of a scuffle between teammates during games are disturbing to hear and show that the root of the Blue Raiders issues extends beyond the controversial play calling. The team needs the seniors to step up and become the leader that grabs the team's attention and motivates them to push through the rough stretches in the game.