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September 27, 2013Before tonight's game we get to a closer look at Mid Tennessee from someone who follows them closest. We spoke with Casey Bowman from gomiddle.com part of the Rivals network and asked some questions so CougarNation can have a better understanding of what to expect tonight.
Who should BYU fans watch on offense and why?
MT has a nice thing going in the backfield with the thunder and lightning combination of Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley. Parker is the starter who typically gets the bulk of the carries, and for good reason. He's big (6-foot-1 and 220 pounds) and powerful, but also possesses deceptive speed. Whatley, on the other hand, is about as fast as anybody in the country, in my opinion. He had a breakout performance on the ground last week against FAU, but he is also the primary kick returner, an area where he was nationally ranked last season. Aside from those two, you have senior leadership with QB Logan Kilgore and WR's Tavarres Jefferson and Kyle Griswould. Neither receiver is very big or fast, but they have great hands and are extremely reliable on third down situations. As for Kilgore, he's had an up and down campaign so far. He's a gunslinger, at times, which has been a double-edged sword here of late. He has already thrown one less interception than he did all of last season, and is still trying to find his groove with a newer set of receivers. When he's on, though, he can be one of premiere quarterbacks in the conference.
Who should BYU fans watch on defense and why?
The linebacker position is where MT is thriving this year defensively. Sophomore T.T. Barber has been on a tear lately. He currently ranks 12th nationally in total tackles, and has an all-around game that serves him well both in getting in the backfield as well as dropping back into coverage. Aside from him, veterans Christian Henry, Stephen Roberts and Rod Blunt all bring something to the table at the position. DE/LB Leighton Gasque is definitely another one to keep an eye on as well. He is MT's sack specialist, and makes his living on third down passing situations. He's a bit undersized to play every down, but when he is in the game, the offense must account for his whereabouts. In the secondary, RS sophomore Kevin Byard is a ball hawk at the safety position. His interception sealed MT's victory last week and he is typically their most reliable and consistent player on defense.
What do MT fans think of playing BYU?
I think the general consensus is that this is a pretty cool series for MT to be taking part in. BYU is a household name, but at the same time, I think fans prefer a road game like this as opposed to heading to the Tuscaloosa's and Gainesville's of the world. It's a breath of fresh air, really. MT gets a solid opponent, but fans also feel as if this could be a winnable game for the Blue Raiders. Fans seem to be hopeful that these two teams will meet again in the future.
Do you expect a good crowd of MT fans to make the trip to Provo?
I think if this would have been a Saturday night game, MT fans would have been more inclined to make the trip out west to take in the game. With that said, there are quite a few players on the roster who hail from out west, particularly the state of California, so there will be a lot of family members in attendance. I wouldn't expect an overly large turnout, but the different shade of blue will be noticeable.
What are you predictions on the game?
I think the line on this game is a little high. I think MT can keep things competitive most of this game, but in the end I see a hungry BYU team who is scathing from a tough loss, and I think that will give them the edge down the stretch. If Kilgore can keep the ball out of the hands of the Cougar defense, MT can keep this close. However, he has yet to do that this season with any real consistency, so I think BYU pulls away with it. My prediction is BYU 31, Middle Tennessee 17. MT covers, but the Cougars win.