Middle Tennessee State - Three to Watch

Navy fans can forgive themselves if they know very little about Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders had been stuck in the rut of the Sun Belt Conference since 2000, and only recently jumped over to the only slightly more prestigious confines of Conference USA.

Navy fans can forgive themselves if they know very little about Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders had been stuck in the rut of the Sun Belt Conference since 2000, and only recently jumped over to the only slightly more prestigious confines of Conference USA. With this in mind it is really no surprise that they have never met the Mids on the gridiron or that their games are not readily available outside of their home market. On December 30th that level of unfamiliarity will change when the two schools face off in the Armed Forces Bowl. Here is an at a glance guide for fans of the Mids to three Blue Raiders who will have the biggest impact on the contest.

Logan Kilmore - Quarterback

You can easily make the argument that Kilmore is the greatest quarterback in the history of the Middle Tennessee State program. Obviously this isn't like saying he is the best ever at USC or Texas, but Kilmore has carved out quite the career in Murfreesboro. This will be his 38th career start, so obviously he has seen it all when it comes to collegiate defenses, and he holds a slew of records within the program including the most career touchdown passes with 53.

This season the 6'3", 201 pounder has used all that experience to his advantage. He passed to 2,000 yard mark through the air for the third straight season and boasts a 61 percent completion rate. Kilmore works out of a spread offense and has excellent arm strength which he uses to get the ball out quickly on screens and hit fly routes down the field. The arm can sometimes get Kilmore into trouble, however, as he sometimes tries to make throws he has no business doing as evidenced by his 11 interceptions on the season. This is particularly true when the Blue Raiders are chasing the game.

Jordan Parker/Reggie Whatley - Running Back

Middle Tennessee is all about balance, and this is evidenced in the way their top two running backs have been employed this season. Both Parker and Whatley have gone over 600 yards running the ball despite, and maybe because of, the fact that each has been banged up with niggling injuries for much of the year. If the Blue Raiders are going to be effective against the Mids then their attack has to be balanced between the run and the pass. Therefore one of these two guys will need to add to their rushing total.

Both have touchdown runs of over 60 yards, so the breakaway threat is something the Mids defense will have to be acutely aware of. The spread style offense that Middle Tennessee employed does a great job of getting Parker and Whatley in space where their playmaking skills and tackle breaking ability is able to take over. It is up to the Navy defense to be assignment sound and prevent gaps appearing which either of these slashers could take full advantage of.

T.T. Barber - Linebacker

The Middle Tennessee defense has been one of the best in the country at forcing turnovers with 31 on the season. Navy though throw the ball so little that even the best ball hawking secondary in the nation would be rendered less useful than normal. That is why the brunt of the defensive pressure for this game will be put on the linebackers and especially sophomore T.T. Barber.

Barber is the guy who will most likely be used as a spy on Keenan Reynolds in an attempt to stop the record breaking quarterback from getting free. Barber has a team leading 112 tackles on the season and he is also leading the Blue Raiders in tackles for a loss (10.5) and sacks (3). Perhaps most impressively though he has also been able to hold his own in coverage and has three interceptions to go along with a couple of pass breakups. It is the tackling though that will be the most important in this game as Reynolds has shown time and time again that if you give him a seam he is gone, not matter the level of competition he is playing against.

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