Scouting report: Gophers vs. Middle Tennessee
2:30 p.m. Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium (BTN, 100.3-FM)
A look at the Blue Raiders
Middle Tennessee (1-1) is coming off a 30-23 upset of Syracuse in the Carrier Dome and is playing its third consecutive opponent from a Power Five conference after opening with a 28-6 loss to Vanderbilt. The Blue Raiders like to score – they averaged 47.6 points per game last year and 34.8 on the road – and have the weapons to do so, led by quarterback Brent Stockstill, who is the son of coach Rick Stockstill. The QB is a three-year starter who has passed for 7,714 yards and 65 touchdowns in his career. Middle Tennessee has been a strong fourth-quarter team, outscoring opponents 20-7.
Who to watch: Richie James, WR
The 5-9, 176-pound junior is a prolific pass-catcher, with seasons of 108 and 105 receptions and 18 this year. He has 22 career touchdown receptions and is averaging 139.3 all-purpose yards per game. The Blue Raiders will work James all over the field against Minnesota (2-0), including in the backfield. “The coaches put me in situations to succeed,’’ James said. “When it’s my opportunity to make plays, I’ve been able to make them.’’
From the coach: Rick Stockstill
In his 12th season at the Murfreesboro, Tenn., school, Stockstill has a 73-67 record and five victories over Power Five opponents (Maryland twice, Georgia Tech, Missouri and Syracuse). Stockstill wants to move on from the win at Syracuse. “Last week, nobody gave you two cents and now everybody wants to give you a quarter,’’ he told his team. “So we’ve got to ignore that and prepare to focus on a really good Minnesota team.’’ ... Stockstill’s Blue Raiders faced P.J. Fleck’s Western Michigan team in the 2015 Bahama’s Bowl, a 45-31 WMU victory.