Stop the run- The Blue Raiders allowed Troy to rush for 164 yards. Maryland comes into this game after amassing 271 yards (6.0 yards per rush) on the ground in their win over Delaware. Da'rel Scott was responsible for 198 of those yards and averaged 7.6 yards per carry.
Maryland has many questions at quarterback. Middle Tennessee's defensive strength is their secondary. The Blue Raiders need to take away the Maryland rushing attack and force the Maryland quarterbacks to air out the ball. This will force the weakness of the Maryland offense into the strength of the Blue Raider defense.
Score in the Red Zone- Red Zone scoring is always a key to the game, but this becomes more apparent when the Blue Raiders failed to score in the Red Zone twice. On both possession the Blue Raiders had 1st and goal from inside the 5 yard line and they came away empty. Do we need to remind anyone that touchdowns on both of those possessions would have scored enough points to force overtime?
Limit 3rd and long- Here's a telling stat, the Blue Raiders were 6 of 19 on 3rd downs. If you break this down the Blue Raiders converted 5 of 7 on 3rd downs that were five yards or less. The Blue Raiders only converted 1 of 12 on 3rd downs with more than 5 yards to go. The Blue Raiders must limit the negative yardage plays. It is absolutely imperative they put themselves in 3rd and short situations.
Throw the deep ball- Middle Tennessee needs to throw the deep ball. Although you can expect the Blue Raiders to run short passing routes, they need to throw the ball deep early in the game. This will open up the shorter pass routes and will keep the Terrapins from stacking the line of scrimmage on run plays. The stellar play of Sancho McDonald and Malcolm Beyah should give the coaching staff enough confidence in the receiving corps to test the Maryland secondary.
Limit Maryland's big plays- Defensively the Blue Raiders were able to limit the big plays by Troy's offense. Conversely, the Middle Tennessee offense gave up two big plays to the Troy defense. The Blue Raiders need to make Maryland earn every yard and not give them a gift. In the game of football there is no shame in punting and living for the next series. As witnesses in the Troy game, one or two big plays can make a difference in the outcome of the game.
These are our 5 keys to a Blue Raider victory.