Motor City Bowl Preview: Special Teams

The Blue Raider Zone breaks down the special teams between the Blue Raiders and the Chippewas and we pick who will win the 2006 Motor City Bowl.

Breaking down the special teams

Kicking: Rick Albreski will handle the field goal duties for the Chippewas. He has hit on 61% of his field goal attempts, but he is only 3 of 8 from 30 yards or more. The Blue Raiders will trust senior Colby Smith will the field goal duties. He is 8 of 12 and a perfect 6 of 6 from inside 40 yards.

The punting games are almost dead even with both teams averaging around 41 yards per punt.

Punt returns: The punt return game is nearly a dead even heat as well. The Blue Raiders are averaging 6 yards a return while the Chippewas are averaging 5.

Kick Returns: The Chippewas are averaging 19 yards a kick return with one return for a 106 yard touchdown by Tim Brazzel. The Blue Raiders boast All-American Damon Nickson. Nickson has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and is averaging nearly 30 yards per return.

Summary: Colby Smith gets the edge in the field goal department. He is more consistent, especially from outside the 30. The kick return team can be the difference maker. Don't expect Central Michigan to give Nickson a chance to break the game open. If they do, Nickson just might make the Chippewas regret that decision.

Blue Raider Zone advantage: Middle Tennessee

Coaching: The Blue Raiders boast a coaching staff that has over 60 bowl games under their belt, but this is Rick Stockstill's first bowl game as head coach. At the time the Blue Raiders accepted the bid for the Motor City Bowl it could be argued that the advantage would go to the more experience head coach Brian Kelly. Kelly has left Central Michigan to take over the job at Cincinnati. In steps Jeff Quinn. Jeff is faced with a tough situation. Not only has he been named interim head coach, he has also had to deal with the departure of some of the assistant coaches.

Blue Raider Zone advantage: Middle Tennessee

Intangibles: The Motor City Bowl may be played at a neutral site, but make no mistake about it, it will have the feel of a home game for the Chippewas. Not only will the crowd be a pro-Central Michigan crowd, CMU played at Ford Field just a few weeks ago in the MAC championship game.


Special Teams: Middle Tennessee


Line: Middle Tennessee
Linebackers: Middle Tennessee
Secondary: Middle Tennessee


Quarterback: Even
Running Back: Middle Tennessee
Receivers: Central Michigan
Offensive Line: Central Michigan
Overall offensive advantage: Central Michigan

Overall Summary: If one looks at the above list they might think it suggests that the Blue Raiders will win and win big, but that's not the way we see it. There is a flaw when one compares position vs. position. It does not take into account position vs. the other side of the ball.

Even though the Blue Raiders may have an advantage at many positions, the real match-up will be the explosive Chippewa offense against the Blue Raider defense. The Chippewas have proven that they can score from just about anywhere on the field and you can expect them to attempt to continue this trend. If the Blue Raiders do not limit the big plays of Central Michigan, look for the game to get out of hand early.

The Blue Raiders will struggle to match Central Michigan point for point in a high scoring game. The Blue Raiders will attempt to use a ball control offense and limit the number of possessions of the CMU offense. If the Blue Raiders are successful in running the ball they will be able to keep the game close. MTSU has the advantage in a close game due to a superior kicking game.

Most of the national media outlets are picking CMU. The Blue Raider Zone can certainly see the reasoning behind these picks. Call us biased or just big Middle Tennessee fans, but we see a low scoring game where one play makes the difference. It might be a Nickson return, a Smith field goal, or a Robinson pick six. We have believed all year and we continue to do so.

Blue Raider Zone pick: Blue Raiders in a close low scoring game.



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