2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Middle Tennessee Offense
The running game has to do more to help the cause. It was easy to rely on Brent Stockstill to carry the offense with the passing game, and the Blue Raiders will still rely on the mid-range air attack, but now the running backs have to do more. It’s not like the program doesn’t like to run – it averaged six yards per carry with close to 2,500 yards just three years ago – but now it has to do it with a revamped line and without any star backs.
Biggest Key To The Middle Tennessee Defense
Third down stops. There’s no excuse for being that bad on third downs last season. The secondary was good, and the pass rush wasn’t awful, but the Blue Raiders allowed teams to convert a whopping 45% of their third down chances. The O was able to take care of the time of possession side of things, but the D allowed teams to march on drive after drive. It all bottomed out in the bowl loss to Appalachian State, who converted 70% of its chances.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Asher O’Hara, Soph.
Or Chase Cunningham, or Randall Johnson. Someone has to replace Brent Stockstill, who connected on 70% of his throws for 3,544 yards and 29 touchdowns. He took a beating, but he managed to make the O go.
The 6-0, 196-pound O’Hara is more of a runner than Stockstill was, and he’s the team’s most experienced quarterback. First, though, he has to beat out Cunningham and Johnson in fall camp for the gig.
Key Game To The Middle Tennessee Season
Marshall, Oct. 5
This isn’t the same Blue Raider team as the 2018 version, but it should grow in time to be just good enough to hang around again in the Conference USA title chase. To have a shot, it has to win the opener at home against a strong Marshall team that has the talent to take the East. Lose, and with road games at Florida Atlantic and North Texas to follow, it might be a rough run before the schedule loosens up.
– Middle Tennessee Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Middle Tennessee Fun Stats
– Onside Kicks: Opponents 3-of-5 – Middle Tennessee 0-for-0
– 3rd Down Conversions: Opponents 94-of-206 (46%) – Middle Tennessee 75-of-200 (38%)
– Kickoff Returns: Opponents 46 for 887 yards – Middle Tennessee 4 for 76 yards