The first 4 games of the season have been described as the harbinger of success for GT's 2012 season...as well they should be. The next game, and the final of 4 straight home games, will be against a fairly familiar foe...MTSU. The third straight and final contest against the Blue Raiders will be a send off to the following game against Clemson at Death Valley. But does this contest have trap written all over it? Find out more after the jump...
As we saw in Tech's unprecedented 6-0 start last year, game 2 involved a 49-21 throttling (including 596 yards of offense) of the Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro, TN. But let's face it, this was against a 2-10 team last year whose only wins came against Memphis and FAU. The 10-3 team of 2009 is long gone, as are the impact players and highly sought after assistant coaches (such as Manny Diaz to Mississippi State as DC). If this is any indication, current Tech QB Timmy Byerly made the choice to return to Georgia and walk-on at Tech (and forgo a year of eligibility) instead of compete for a starting job at QB for MTSU. Head Coach Rick Stocksill's team has a bit of rebuilding to do after an 0-6 end to the 2011 season...but does he have the horses to do it?
The Blue Raiders will most likely return Logan Kilgore at starting QB (59% Comp%, 18 TD/12 INT, 2231 yards in 2011), although he will likely face some competition for the starting job. Returning RBs William Pratcher and Benny Cunningham return with their 2011 totals of 1086 yards and 6 TDs...in addition to LSU transfer Drayton Calhoun. With a practically brand new OL, their new OC has committed to a more power rushing attack and simpler schemes. With many of his receiving targets also lost to graduation, it isn't difficult to figure out why.
On defense, MTSU returns all 4 starters on the Defensive Line in a 4-3 front...though fairly undersized. The LB and Secondary return only 1 starter altogether. The impact player on defense might be the light but speedy pass-rusher Leighton Gasque (7 sacks in 2011), although GTs lack of passing attempts and his size (6'2" 201) will likely limit his impact.
So what is going to happen? Although it has the ability to be a look ahead game sandwiched between important ACC tilts against Miami and Clemson, this is not a very strong MTSU side. Their stretch goal is to improve to about 5-6 wins as they rebuild the program back to competitiveness. Even with a bye week (be on the lookout for a future story about "extra time to prepare for the TO") to prepare...OH NOES!!!...Tech will most likely not be troubled for very long at home against the Blue Raiders. Depending on the previous week's outcome, Tech will come out looking to build momentum for a positive record heading into the always competitive series against Clemson. Tech should win handily with a solid rushing effort, although expecting the 2011 result is a tad aggressive.