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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Statistical Review: Middle Tennessee State #66

MTSU beat Georgia Tech by 21 points. Georgia Tech played for the ACC championship and was one play from beating Florida State and claiming the ACC title. MTSU lost to McNeese State and lost to Arkansas State by 45. They won eight games, six more than in 2011, but they didn't play in a bowl game. An odd season to say the least.

The Georgia Tech win really says more about Georgia Tech than Middle Tennessee. Paul Johnson's Tech teams tend to take quarters, halves, even games off on defense, and they definitely did that in this case. Also, Georgia Tech just wasn't that great all season; they were just outside of the top 1/3rd nationally. That they played for the ACC title is more about the ACC and the cheating cheaters that cheat in the ACC than anything else. Another important factor, though, is that Georgia Tech is not built to exploit MTSU's biggest weakness: a porous pass defense and 67.5% completions against. To their credit, the Blue Raiders were tough on defense in that game.

On offense, MTSU was effective at the line of scrimmage in 2012. They had among the nation's lowest sack and TFL rates. They ran 5.7 plays per possession and had good average starting field position (own 33), but performed poorly in the red zone (3.4 points per opportunity), and so they kicked field goals on 30% of their scoring drives. In 2013, they must depend more on the passing game with Kilgore back and Terry Pettis set to make an impact at receiver; in 2012, they ran the ball 58% of the time despite it being the relatively less effective part of their offense.

The biggest strength of the defense was turnovers. They forced turnovers on just under one possession in every five - which is a big reason for the good average field position for the offense. They were also good at preventing explosive plays. But they failed to bring much pressure; MTSU sacked the opponent's quarterback on only 3.7% of pass plays.

The Statistical Review breaks down teams along a number of performance categories, everything from red zone scoring to field goal percentage, and compares that performance against the rest of the FBS. All 124 teams will be reviewed from 124 to 1 by the hybrid rankings. You can find short descriptions of the stats used in the table below.

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