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October 10, 2008
Raiders on the spot: FIU
Middle Tennessee and Florida International each try to get back to .500 in Saturday's pivotal Sun Belt game at FIU Stadium.
The Blue Raiders are coming off a thrilling last second win over Florida Atlantic while the Golden Panthers have won two straight games over Toledo and North Texas.
Which Blue Raiders should you keep a close eye on?
GoMiddle.com picks out the five MT players most on the spot against FIU.
1.] David DeFatta
DeFatta will play a key role in this game because his punts will have to placed well and with good hang time to help the Blue Raider coverage team neutralize T.Y. Hilton, FIU's dangerous big play punt returner. Hilton has a punt return for a touchdown already this year and is averaging more than 20 yards per punt return. Overall as a team, FIU has two punt returns for touchdowns and is averaging nearly 14 yards per punt return. DeFatta has to be sharp to make sure the Blue Raiders flip field position when they are forced to punt.
2.] Joe Craddock
Craddock throws the prettiest Hail Mary in college football, but Middle Tennessee hopes another one isn't necessary to get past FIU on the road. Craddock is set up to have a big game against the FIU pass defense, which ranks next to last in the Sun Belt in pass defense. The Blue Raider offense has been going to the air early and often, allowing Craddock to pile up big numbers. It could be more of the same in Miami.
3.] Desmond Gee
Gee has had a tough time getting on track so far this year. He has certainly had his fair share of highlights, but he has yet to find a consistent groove. The Blue Raider offense continues to try to find ways to get his hands on the ball, but the running game has struggled all season behind a young and inexperienced offensive line. Against the FIU defense, which has been significantly improved over the last couple of years, Gee needs to flash some big play ability. His role could be expanded if fellow running back Phillip Tanner can't play or is at least limited with his injured neck.
4.] Eldred King
MT receivers Patrick Honeycutt and Malcolm Beyah have been picking up most of the ink recently. Beyah caught the winning touchdown against FAU and Honeycutt has caught 20 passes in the last two games, which means it's probably about time for King to have a breakout game. The FIU secondary will certainly be keying on both Honeycutt and Beyah in an effort to force another player to beat it. King has quietly caught 19 passes this year to rank second on the team behind Honeycutt. He has not been a big play threat but he has displayed steady hands and has proven reliable. Look for him to make a couple of key catches to keep drives alive.
5.] Danny Carmichael
Carmichael has been a stalwart all year as the leader of the Blue Raider defense. He has made big plays and has been a steady tackler. He is third on the team in tackles, tied for second in tackles for loss, tied for first in sacks, tied for first interceptions, and tied for first fumbles forced. Against an FIU offense that has struggled to move the ball, Carmichael has a chance for another big game. But can he lead the charge in causing some Golden Panther turnovers? FIU has done a good job protecting the ball so far this year. MT needs to force a couple of turnovers.