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September 15, 2008
Skill position talent has ASU on alert
Steve Roberts doesn't have many fond memories to reflect on in his encounters with Middle Tennessee over the years.Arkansas State head coach
The Blue Raiders have won all but one meeting with the newly named Red Wolves since the Sun Belt's inception in 2001.
Middle Tennessee's average margin of victory in its six wins over ASU since 2001 is more than 28 points per game.
It's not the history of the series though that worries Roberts as his program prepares to face the Blue Raiders again.
It's Middle Tennessee's considerable speed and explosiveness at multiple positions that he has noticed in preparing his game plan.
"I've watched a little film, haven't had a chance to watch all three games yet, but they are very talented at all the skill positons. The quarterback is playing great football, he threw the ball over 350 yards last week against Kentucky. The defense, just like always, is fast and physical. Special teams are very solid, they'll be a tremendous challenge."
The Blue Raider offense has had big play strikes in each of the first three games.
Receiver Malcolm Beyah scored on a 46-yard reception against Troy, a 53-yard catch against Maryland, and a 22-yard grab at Kentucky.
Desmond Gee got free against the Wildcats for a 62-yard touchdown, giving the Blue Raiders four touchdowns of more than 20 yards on the season, coming in three games against highly touted defenses.
Arkansas State ranks in the top 40 nationally in both total defense and pass defense. The Red Wolves limited Larry Fedora's vaunted passing offense to 219 yards in a 27-24 loss to Southern Mississippi on Saturday.
Facing off against Joe Craddock and his receiving weapons may be an even bigger chore though.
"No doubt, it will be a tough test, they've got an experienced quarterback and tremendous skill people that he gets the ball to, so it will be a big test for our secondary."