The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
No. 74: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Spring Practice Starts: March 13
Spring Game: April 14
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Spring Status
With six straight seasons with six wins or more, Middle Tennessee has been in the land of the good. But it hasn’t been able to catch the right break to be among the Conference USA elite.
But at least it finally won a bowl game again, taking down Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl.
Not having QB Brent Stockstill around for a while with an injury was tough, and star WR Richie James hurt all year – and now he turned pro – the team wasn’t quite right. But now there’s hope for a big, big year.
Ten starters return on offense – including Stockstill for what seems like his 14th year – and the defense that went through a youth movement up front gets back three starters on the line. The back seven, though, loses some key parts, especially at corner.
As long as everyone can stay in one piece, the Blue Raiders will be a factor in the Conference USA title chase. And winning six or more games and going bowling isn’t bad, either.
Middle Tennessee Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Cornerback. The Blue Raider pass defense wasn’t a rock, but it more often than not got the job done. Safeties Jovante Moffatt and Reed Blankenship are back, but the secondary loses Michael Minter and Charvarius Ward – two sure tacklers. O.J. Johnson and Darryl Randolph each saw plenty of action – Randolph made 48 tackles. The corner jobs are going to be a fight, though, because …
Middle Tennessee Biggest Issue
Interceptions & the turnover margin. Only five teams came up with fewer picks than the five the Blue Raiders came up with. That’s part of the reason they were disastrous when it came to winning the turnover battle, going a -12 on the season and -2 or more in five games.
Middle Tennessee Biggest Positive
The passing attack will rock. Stockstill has to do a better job of limiting the interceptions – throwing eight in 239 passes – but he’s a veteran bomber who should push for 4,000 yards if he can stay healthy. The Blue Raiders get back all but 25 of the 282 catches and 21 of the 23 touchdown grabs from last year.
Really, Why Are The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Ranked Here?
Marshall, Florida Atlantic and North Texas are loaded and good enough to win the Conference USA title, and the Blue Raiders will be right there.
The offense will be as explosive as any in the conference, but the turnovers have to stop, and the takeaways have to start coming from the other side. Expect at least another bowl trip, but it’ll be a battle to get through the East.