2011 Record: (2-10, 1-7 in Sun Belt)
Head Coach: Rick Stockstill (35-40 at MTSU, 26-19 in Sun Belt)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Season GoDaddy.com Bowl: lost to Miami (OH) 35-21
Four Year Coaching Trend: 5.75 wins, 6.75 losses per year; avg of 4 wins and 3.75 losses in Sun Belt per year
Big Name Opponents: 9/29 at GT, 10/20 at Mississippi State
Must Win: 8/30 vs McNeese State, 9/8 vs FAU, 11/17 at South Alabama
Swing Games: 9/15 at Memphis, 11/1 at WKU, 11/24 vs Troy
Stat to Cheer: only allowed 10 sacks the entire season (4th in the Nation)
Stat to Fear: gave up 95 third down conversions (116th in Nation) as opponents converted the rate of 48.97% (compared to 38.16% in 2010)
Phil Steele’s Returning Starters (Offense: 6; Defense: 6; Specialists: 1)
Key Defensive Returnees: LB/DE Leighton Gasque (6 sacks), DE Omar McLendon (54 tackles, 2.5 sacks)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Logan Kilgore (18 TD, 12 INT), RB Benny Cunningham (501 yds, 4 TD), RB William Pratcher (585 yds, 2 TD), WR Tavarres Jefferson (51 rec)
It was just three years ago that the Blue Raiders finished with double digit wins and went 7-1 in the Sun Belt. Fast forward two years and their record was flipped at 1-7 in the Sun Belt and they won just two games overall. The answer is that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. MTSU, under Stockstill, is typically not going to be the best or worst team in the Sun Belt. Generally speaking, you will find them in the middle.
On offense the Blue Raiders bring back some weapons for their Air Raid offense but there is one big concern and that’s the offensive line. Last year, MTSU had the 12th most starts returning in the Nation on their OL. This year they must replace four starters from an OL that gave up just ten sacks last year.
On defense, MTSU must replace it’s top four tacklers and everybody who had the wherewithal to intercept a pass last season (it’s really not that big as they only intercepted four passes all year). MTSU has some young talent on defense but they took some major lumps last year as they gave up 2755 yards on the ground for the year. There wasn’t a single game where they held their opponent under 100 yards rushing. They also gave up 37 rushing TDs (only Kansas and New Mexico gave up more). Tyrone Nix will join the defensive staff as a co-defensive coordinator and he will have his work cut out for him.
Middle Tennessee will improve from their 2-10 fall in 2011 and the schedule starts off with three winnable games. That being said, don’t look for the Blue Raiders to go bowling this year.
2012 Prediction: 4-8
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