It is year 14 at Middle Tennessee for Rick Stockstill, the second-longest tenured coach in the G5 behind only Ohio‘s Frank Solich. He now must make on without the most prolific passer in program history, his son Brent Stockstill, who racked up 12,495 yards in four years in Murfreesboro, shattering the previous record held by Wes Counts.
In the four years with Stockstill at the helm the Blue Raiders were always very good but could never crack that next level, winning seven or eight games every year, and falling two points shy of a C-USA title against UAB in 2018.
QB Brent Stockstill isn’t the only departure that the Blue Raiders will deal with in 2019. Three starters are gone from the line along with four of the top six receivers.
Last year’s top receiver Ty Lee (883 yards, 12.4 YPC, seven touchdowns) will return though, along with the top two rushers in Chaton Mobley (613 yards, four touchdowns, 5.0 YPA) and Terelle West, who both saw increased playing time to an injury to projected starter Tavares Thomas.
WR Brad Anderson shined before going down with an injury early last year, racking up 450+ yards between the run game and his efforts receiving. CJ Windham also returns after missing essentially the entirety of 2018 due to an injury. Windham racked up 14.0 YPC in 2017 as a sophomore.
The questions start to come at the QB spot. Asher O’Hara is the obvious choice, being Stockstill’s backup last year, but JUCO transfer Randall Johnson is a dual-threat that adds another dimension to the Blue Raiders’ offensive game and I think he has a good chance of challenging for and winning the starting job.
Having an iffy line and a question mark at quarterback means some talent in the skill corps won’t take you very far, so MTSU needs to hope the young guys show some stuff in those two key units.
A mixed bag returns from what was a solid defense last year. SS Javonte Moffatt is back for a fifth year after an injury sidelined him pretty early last year. His dancing partner, FS Reed Blankenship, also returns after a 1st team all-conference year (seven PBUs, four interceptions).
OLBs Khalil Brooks and DQ Thomas return after being awesome last year (14.5 sacks, 14.5 TFL combined), but a new face will have to take over in the middle, and depth will be an issue at corner as well.
On the defensive line ends Tyshun Render and Trae Philpots return (6.5 sacks, ten TFL combined) but the Blue Raiders will have some turnover on the interior where depth could be an issue.
All three levels have strengths (S, OLB, DE) and weaknesses (CB, MLB, DT), but there are a lot of young recruits for stud coordinator Scott Shafer to work with, and I have faith in him to make the most of a mixed bag of a situation.
A mixed bag is probably the only way to look at this team. WR is a spot where injuries have caused issues in the past, and the QB spot is pretty much a question mark.
On the defensive end, there are enough pieces that the high risk, attacking style that the Blue Raiders have played with in recent years should be able to hide some of the holes.
All in all, I’m generally positive about this team (on the C-USA adjusted scale), but the schedule is tough, MTSU will be favored in just one of their first seven games (although a lot of those will be close).
With five games projected within five points and the variability that tends to come with a new quarterback there are a wide range of possible outcomes on this team, but I think a bowl berth is likely.
|Date||Opponent||Opp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|12-Oct||at Florida Atlantic||79||-5.3|
|19-Oct||at North Texas||80||-5.1|
|30-Nov||at Western Kentucky||105||0.2|
Average Projected Record: 6.2 wins, 5.8 losses (4.5 wins, 3.5 losses)