In watching the Tennessee game alone, the Middle Tennessee defense has amazing speed from side to side. Not to mention the fact that they have great size on the D-line.
The Middle Tennessee Defense almost plays a 3-3 up front, with three down lineman backed up by three linebackers. The three down lineman are huge, all over 290, and all have a great burst off the ball. The backup, Demetrios Walker at Left End had 2 tackles for loss against the might Tennessee offensive line. Walker's ability to get off the ball is tremendous, and could be just as much of a challenge to deal with as Mr. White from Louisville.
Another deceiving stat is total yards given up. The Blue Raiders are giving up an average of 415 yards per game, with an average of 250 yards passing per game, and 162 rushing yards per game. The average per rush is around 4.45 yards per carry. Now all of these numbers look great, but Kentucky is still not a Tennessee or Alabama in the rushing game, yet.
This is a huge test for the Cats, as if they can get the same type of production out of the stellar Artose Pinner in this game against this competition, they truly will have shown their merit in the rushing game. To equal or better these rushing stats would be an accomplishment, given UK's affection for the halfback pass, and Middle Tennessee's great speed at all positions.
And that is the key to the rushing game, between the tackles. If UK cannot open gaps for Artose through the middle, it could be a long night for the rushing attack.
If it becomes a long night for the rushing attack, it could also be a long night for the passing game as well. Middle Tennessee will do the exact same thing that Indiana did, and force our passing game short. UK has yet to show that it has the ability of a Tennessee or an Alabama to put together a strong short passing game. Against Indiana, Kentucky was forced into timed slant patterns, continually missing routes and simply looking quite sloppy.
UK will have a hard time finding that big play that has led to numerous scores against the Middle Tennessee defense. Although Alabama scored the Blue Raiders for numerous big plays, most of those plays were in the first half, against a probably nervous team that is still very very young. There are only 5 seniors on the defensive depth chart, and only 3 are starting.
With two TOUGH games on the road, and 2 weeks to prepare for this game, Coach Pease will have to be on his game this weekend to pull the kind of offensive production that UK fans are expecting.
If you want to keep up with the MTSU defense, here are some names and numbers that could be trouble for the Cats.LE #98 Demetrios Walker
LE #97 Jerry Vanderpool
LB #47 Sheldon Durham
FS #12 Will Martin
RC #5 Muhammad Rashada
LC #3 Tony Sutton