Syracuse football opponent preview: What to know about Middle Tennessee State

first_img Published on September 7, 2017 at 11:32 pm Contact Tomer: | @tomer_langer Facebook Twitter Google+ UPDATED: Sept. 10, 2017 at 10:33 p.m.After a lopsided victory in Week 1, Syracuse (1-0) gets its next challenge in the form of Middle Tennessee State (0-1) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. MTSU defensive coordinator Scott Shafer will be making his first return to the Carrier Dome since being fired as head coach of the Orange in 2015.Here’s what to know about the Blue Raiders:All-time series: This is the first matchup between the two schools.The Middle Tennessee State report: MTSU owned one of the most effective offenses in the country a year ago, finishing eighth in total offense while racking 517.7 yards of offense per game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat total is mainly fueled by the passing attack, which also finished eighth in passing yards per game. Quarterback Brent Stockstill, son of head coach Rick Stockstill, is all the all-time leader in career touchdowns at MTSU, throwing for 62 in just 25 games.Stockstill’s most trusted target is Richie James, who has caught more than 100 balls in each of his first two seasons. He hauled in 10 receptions for 112 yards last week against Vanderbilt but the MTSU offense as a whole was stalled against the Commodores. Stockstill was sacked five times as the Blue Raiders managed to score just six points in the loss.On defense the Blue Raiders have Mike Minter Jr., a top corner who should defend Steve Ishmael for much of the game. Ishmael was a big part of SU’s offense Friday and negating him could be a deciding factor for MTSU.How Syracuse beats Middle Tennessee State: Get to the quarterback. Vanderbilt developed the blueprint a week ago and Syracuse would be wise to follow it. Now, head coach Dino Babers admitted that SU might not have as good of a personnel group as Vanderbilt does. But it’ll still be paramount to the Orange’s success.Defensive tackle Chris Slayton was a force against Central Connecticut State as he normally is and transfer defensive ends Brandon Berry and Alton Robinson impressed in SU’s first game. Somehow, whether it’s strictly from the front four or if SU brings out various blitz packages, someone will need to get to the Stockstill and rush him.Player to watch: Richie James, wide receiver, No. 3James caught 213 balls over the first two years of his career. If he continues his pace of catching 100 balls a year he’d break the all-time receptions record set by Zay Jones and would be the first receiver ever to catch 400 balls. He got off to a hot start last week against Vanderbilt and needs just 16 catches to become the MTSU all-time receptions leader. He’s also been used effectively as a running threat, racking up 339 rushing yards on 38 carries a year ago to go with his 1,625 receiving yards. SU will need to find a way to slow down James on Saturday. Commentslast_img

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