|Posted on September 9, 2017 at 12:20 AM|
Article by Dan Tortora
The Syracuse Orange football squad's second game of the 2017 season pits them against the visiting Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders and former head coach Scott Shafer, who is currently in his first season as Middle Tennessee's defensive coordinator.
Take a look at the analysis below to get a better feel for Syracuse's upcoming foe:
QB Brent Stockstill's completion percentage has gone down from 66.7% in 2015 to 63.3% in 2016 and most recently 58.1% in his first game of 2017. Despite attempting less throws in 2016 (414) than in 2015 (490), Stockstill's completion numbers fell.
However, Stockstill, the son of Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockhill, remained consistent in his touchdown to interception ratio from 2015 to 2016. He threw for at least 30 touchdowns while tossing less than 10 interceptions in both of those seasons, with 30 touchdowns to nine interceptions in 2015 and 31 touchdowns to seven interceptions in 2016.
On the ground, Stockstill has taken at least 45 quarterback keepers in each of the last two seasons. He achieved 37 total rushing yards on 60 attempts with two touchdowns in 2015. Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey accumulated 51 rushing yards on a mere nine carries, including two touchdowns, in the 2017 season-opener against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils alone. Conversely, in Middle Tennessee's season-opener versus the Vanderbilt Commodores, Stockstill had -20 rushing yards on 10 attempts.
Take out the -20 yards that sent the Blue Raiders backward from Stockstill's 10 keepers and those that ran for Middle Tennessee in the 2017 season-opener gained 69 yards on 16 carries (4.31 yards per carry).
Senior running back Shane Tucker achieved at least 400 rushing yards in the 2014 and 2015 seasons; he was not on the field for the 2016 season. Tucker had 30 more attempts in 2015 than in 2014, but achieved 73 less yards despite the uptick in carries.
His touchdown totals have fluctuated from season to season, with five in 2013, eight in 2014, and two in 2015.
Junior running back Maurice Gordon had the most carries in the team's 2017 season-opener, with seven, amounting 26 yards (3.7 yards per carry), while Tucker had a mere two carries but gained just five less yards (21) than Gordon, and averaged 10.5 yards per carry.
Outside of running backs, the Blue Raiders used other skill players to run the ball in their first game of 2017, having junior wide receiver Richie James carry the ball twice and sophomore wide receiver Ty Lee carry it five times. The duo wide receivers combined to gain just one more yard than Tucker did alone (22 to 21 rushing yards).
Along with carrying the ball twice for Middle Tennessee, James was also the team's leading receiver in their first game of 2017, catching the ball 10 times and amounting 112 yards, including the team's only receiving touchdown of the game.
The other four players to catch a pass achieved 54 yards combined, as compared to James' 112 receiving yards by himself. James (11.2), Tucker (9.0), and junior wide receiver Patrick Smith (9.7) averaged at least nine yards per reception in the team's 2017 debut.
Five players caught at least one pass from Stockstill, while Orange starting quarterback Eric Dungey and backup quarterback Rex Culpepper combined to complete passes to 12 different players in their 2017 opener. Middle Tennessee's five players collectively caught 18 passes in their 2017 season-opener for 166 yards, while Syracuse's 12 players combined to catch 38 passes for 442 yards.
The Blue Raiders had success against the rush in their 2017 season-opening match-up with Vanderbilt, allowing 71 yards on 35 carries, giving the Commodores only two yards per carry on average.
However, the Blue Raiders' defense struggled against the pass versus Vanderbilt, allowing just shy of 300 yards through the air (296) and three passing touchdowns to no interceptions. Senior running back Ralph Webb attained over 100 receiving yards (104) on just three catches against the Blue Raiders' pass defense.
Vanderbilt sophomore wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb caught the ball twice, both turning into touchdowns allowed by Middle Tennessee, in a 22-point loss to open the season, losing 28-6.
Middle Tennessee's defense only sacked the quarterback once in ther 2017 opener, amounting five tackles for loss, while Middle Tennessee's offense allowed Vanderbilt to sack Stockstill five times and achieve 10 total tackles for loss.
The Blue Raiders' defense forced seven punts, but the offense also punted the ball away seven times.
Junior punter Matt Bonadies averaged 40.5 yards per punt versus Vanderbilt in their Week 1 contest, punting six times for 243 yards.
Stockstill punted once for Middle Tennessee for 42 yards.
Senior kicker Canon Rooker missed an extra point and did not attempt a field goal at all in the 2017 season-opener.
Middle Tennessee did not return a single kick, while wide receiver James took three punt returns back a total of 20 yards, with that 20 yards being achieved on one of those three return attempts.