Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Marshall Football: Fast Facts, Middle Tennessee

1) Quarterback Logan Kilgore is one of the most prolific passers to ever put on a Middle Tennessee State uniform. One of four Blue Raiders quarterbacks to throw for over 6,000 career yards, Kilgore's 43 touchdowns rank second in school history.

2) In the season opener Kilgore suffered a injury to his throwing arm and it has hampered him ever since. Kilgore is still completing over 62% of his passes and thrown for 1,086 yards but, he has tossed more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (6).

3) Speaking of Kilgore’s struggles, he was pulled in the first half of Middle Tennesse’s last game, a 34-7 loss to North Texas. His replacement, redshirt freshman Austin Grammer, ran for 106 yards on 15 carries but only completed six of 20 passes for just 36 yards and a interception. Kilgore’s removal had more to do with the offensive lines inability to protect him as opposed to his personal performance. Before being benched Kilgore had completed all eight of his pass attempts for 30 yards.

4) MTSU’s offensive line is a tale of two sides. On the left, tackle Darius Johnson and guard Josh Walker are legitimate NFL prospects. On the right, Middle Tennessee starts true freshman Daniel Stephens at guard. In the middle, third team center Nick Nunez has taken over first team duties although, second team center Jesse Graham (injured knee) might be available on a limited basis against Marshall. Starting center Josh Chester underwent foot surgery in late September and has not played since.

5) The Blue Raiders use two very different runners in their rushing attack. The first is bruising, 6-foot-1, 207 lbs., junior Jordan Parker. He leads the team with 115 carries for 526 yards and four touchdowns. Parker has been limited the last two weeks, only recording 14 rushing attempts for 46 yards after sustaining a hip injury against BYU.

6) The other running back is 5-foot-7 speedster Reggie Whatley. The Georgia native has rushed for 343 yards on 57 attempts and three touchdowns.

7) Tavarres Jackson is MTSU’s leading receiver with 25 receptions for 320 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Henry (18 catches, 207 yards, 1 TD) and Kyle Griswould (24 catches, 191 yards, 2 TD) also factor heavily into the passing attack.

8) In total, Middle Tennessee ranks 11th in total offense, 12th in passing offense, and 6th in rushing offense among Conference USA schools.

9) The Blue Raiders defense is best described as bend don’t break. They are at the bottom of C-USA in total defense (12th, 450.4 yards allowed per game), pass defense (10th, 194.5 yards allowed per game), and run defense (12th, 195.4 yards allowed per game). What they excel at is causing turnovers. MTSU's 20 turnovers gained is tied with North Texas and Tulane for the conference lead.

10) Linebacker T.T. Barber leads the Blue Raiders with 76 tackles. His seven tackles for loss are also a team high. Not to be outdone, Barber is also tied for the team lead with three sacks.

11) MTSU starting middle linebacker Christian Henry is the son of Marshall athletics Hall of Famer Charles Henry. The elder Henry was the youngest member of the Young Thundering Herd in 1971.

12) Safety Kevin Byard is MTSU's best player in the secondary. His 62 tackles are second on the team and he is tied with Barber for the team lead in interceptions (2). Byard was placed on the preseason, Jim Thorpe Award (honoring college football’s best defensive back) Watch List.

13) No MTSU defensive lineman has recorded over 20 tackles.

14) Blue Raiders kicker Cody Clark has been inconsistent, only converting four of eight field goal attempts. His longest conversion this season was for 42 yards.

15) Punter Josh Davis is averaging 42.1 yards per attempt with 12 of his punts traveling over 50 yards.

16) Besides being the change of pace running back, Whatley also returns kicks. He is averaging 26.1 yards per kick return. Griswould serves as MTSU's punt returner, he returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown against Western Carolina earlier in the season.

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