Georgia Tech won’t be feeling sorry for Middle Tennessee State.
Then again, the Blue Raiders have no interest in feeling sorry for themselves after a devastating season-opening 27-24 loss at Purdue last week.
Instead, they plan to pull positives from the setback as they welcome Georgia Tech to Murfreesboro for a 6 p.m. kickoff on Saturday (ESPN3.com).
“I think they are in a great frame of mind right now. We know we had a chance to win that game at Purdue,” MTSU coach Rick Stockstill said earlier this week. “I think we have some confidence now, especially playing so many young guys. We started seven or eight guys that had never started before, and they now have confidence that they can play on this level against that type of competition. We know there is still something that we have to prove, so I like the frame of mind we are in after a tough loss.”
The Blue Raiders led Purdue for most of the game before they surrendered 10 points over the last six minutes. Caleb TerBush connected with Antavian Edison for a 35-yard touchdown with just 49 seconds left.
MTSU had one last chance, and set up Alan Gendreau for a game-tying 47-yard field goal. The kick was blocked, sealing Purdue’s victory.
The Blue Raiders, however, drew many positives from the setback. Perhaps the biggest is knowing that their quarterback, Logan Kilgore, is more than capable of flinging the ball around. The sophomore, who started three games last year, completed 27-of-45 passes for 330 yards — the eighth-most by a Football Bowl Subdivision quarterback last week. Seven of his passes were caught by Ensworth grad Tavarres Jefferson, who finished with 61 yards.
Kilgore also threw two touchdowns and had one interception — the Blue Raiders’ lone turnover. MTSU committed a Sun Belt Conference-worst 38 turnovers in 2010.
“You never want to get to high or low as a quarterback,” Kilgore said. “I’ve listened to a lot of the big-name guys talk about keeping your emotions in check and that is what I try to do.”
Defensively, the Blue Raiders will try to clamp down a little tighter. They allowed Purdue to gain 420 yards of offense, including 200 rushing yards.
In a 63-21 victory against Western Carolina last weekend, Georgia Tech rushed for 297 yards. The Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense rolled to 662 yards. They used two quarterbacks, while 12 different players had a rushing attempt. Tech also scored five touchdowns of 20 yards or more.
“You have to know your assignment,” MTSU safety Derrick Crumpton said. “If you go through it before the snap, you’ll have a jump on the offense. You have to pay attention to your assignment so there isn’t a big play.”
The meeting is the second of a home-and-home series. The Blue Raiders lost 42-14 in Atlanta last year and put themselves at a disadvantage with six turnovers.
“We just didn’t give ourselves a chance,” Stockstill said. “…We expect to beat Georgia Tech this week. On a national scale, nobody expects us to beat them, but everybody in that locker room does. When we played Louisville that first year [in 2006], they were ranked No. 8 in the country, and we were just hoping we could hang with those guys.
“Now we know we can hang with Purdue, we can hang with Georgia Tech, or whoever we are playing, so I think that perception has changed.”