Sept. 27, 2012
by Matt Winkeljohn, Sting Daily –
Middle Tennessee State won’t exactly bring more of the same when the Blue Raiders visit Georgia Tech Saturday, but they’re going to throw it around a bit beginning at noon in Bobby Dodd Stadium. That might not at first seem like a good thing for a Tech secondary that is banged up and getting younger, but then again . . .
Maybe a little hair of the mutt that bit the Jackets will be good for them.
After surrendering 436 passing yards last week to Miami, Tech wants to work on defending the air game.
MTSU quarterback Logan Kilgore and his receivers look like a test.
He’s completing nearly 70 percent of his throws (59-of-85 for 69.4 percent) with six touchdowns and one interception in three games. The Raiders are averaging 226 passing yards per game, which ranks a modest 65th nationally. MTSU is No. 23, however, in passing efficiency, and wide receiver Amos Anthony already has 21 catches for 300 yards and three touchdowns in just three games.
“I think they throw a lot of bubble screens and have a quick passing game,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “They’re the typical spread type offense; they have a couple good receivers, and their quarterback is experienced and has done a good job throwing it around.”
The Jackets were not efficient slowing the pass at the beginning or end of the Miami game, and the likely continued absence of safety Fred Holton (foot) and cornerback Louis Young (shoulder) has prompted the defensive staff to move some folks around. Safety Isaiah Johnson, cornerbacks Rod Sweeting and Jemea Thomas and others will be busy.
So, too, will be sophomore Jamal Golden. He has generally acquitted himself well at safety, and Johnson said that true freshman D.J. White this week is a candidate to see his first action. “We’ve got some injuries and we need him back in the secondary so he is probably going to play,” the coach said. “ We’re trying to do our best to red-shirt most of that class and not waste a year for them to be mop-up guys.”
Golden’s biggest play last week was an exciting 56-yard punt return. He’s working at the safety position although corner might be more natural for him.
“For a guy who this is his first year playing, I think Jamal has done some good things. Like everybody else, there have been mistakes along the way,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t one of his better games tackling, but all in all he has been a real positive back there, helping guys get lined up and those kinds of things.”
The Jackets struggled against the pass in the fourth quarter of the season opener at Virginia Tech, but not again until the first and fourth quarters against Miami. The moving pieces in the secondary don’t help, but the greater issue is getting everybody on the same page and mounting more consistent pressure on the quarterback.
“I thought before Saturday that they played very well. Saturday was not a great day for anybody. But it’s like anything else when you’re playing coverage back there and there’s not a lot of pressure, there’s going to be some exposure,” Johnson said. “You have to give the other team some credit, too; they had some pretty good receivers, their quarterback was hot and they made some plays. You continue to evaluate.”