Photo: Joe Songer |

Welcome back to the film room for this week’s edition of Blazer’s Opponent Theater. This week we’ll take a look at Saturday’s opponent, The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.

Despite not having their starting quarterback and start wide reciever the Blue Raiders put on an impressive display against a so-so FIU team beating them 37-17. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

Throughout the game MTSU’s defense got by with the bend but don’t break philosophy and put together enough big plays and timely stops. Here we see textbook coverage on the bubble screen, a type of play UAB loves to run.

MTSU shuts down FIU’s first drive which leads to our first look at their backup QB, John Urzua. As we mentioned in our UAB Football vs. Middle Tennessee Preview, Analysis and Prediction, the Blue Raiders have not shied away from airing it out with Urzua who has attempted more passes than AJ has all season in his short time at the starting position.

Urzua has a killer arm and knows the playbook well. He’s no Brent Stockstill but he is to be respected as a passer, especially when he goes deep.

Some of you may remember Tony Franklin the former Auburn offensive coordinator and supposed spread offense whisperer. Now at MTSU, he brings some of his token looks, one being the shotgun shuttle pass which they run very frequently.

Defensively MTSU is probably somewhere between North Texas and La Tech. They’re solid in most spots. Here they fake the blitz and still get the sack on 3rd and long.

Back to the offense we’ll see MTSU’s red zone and goal line wildcat package which they ran every single time they got in the area. They scored out of this formation three times.

Anytime FIU got behind the sticks MTSU made them pay.

MTSU doesn’t run the ball much but when they do it’s all about misdirection.

FIU caught the Blue Raiders being a little over aggressive. AJ will most certainly have some room to run on Saturday.

Urzua has confidence. We’ll need to make him uncomfortable early and often.

MTSU managed to break off a couple big runs when FIU was out of position. If there’s one thing our defense has done well in the last 5 quarters is keeping the opposing running back in check.

Here’s a look at the third wild cat touchdown.

The Blue Raiders defense held strong for the remainder of the game and the offense got another field goal late to seal the deal. Pretty darn good performance for their backup QB who is without their star reciever.