Football Camp Notebook for Saturday

Defense has best day to date

August 12, 2006 · MT Media Relations

Today's practice:
"Today was a hair better than yesterday. Certain parts of the practice looked like we were more in tuned to what was going on because we performed better and looked much better. Toward the end of practice I thought the offense was very sloppy. They had some penalties in there, some mental errors, missed assignments, and people jumping off-sides. I thought the defense was a lot better today than yesterday except for one short stretch. We are a work in progress and we have to concentrate on getting better every day and our staff has to keep coaching every player up as hard as we can. These guys have to realize that every play in practice and in the game is important. You don't have the luxury of taking a play off at anytime."

On Defense Front: "Those guys came off the ball well today and got a lot of pressure. They played with a lot of intensity but I also believe the offensive line helped them out some because of their missed assignments. We have to start taking care of business every play and understanding the importance of every play. The little things are what matters most."

DE TAVARES JONES ON THE DEFENSIVE FRONT: "I think we are coming together well. Everyone is working real hard and doing what it takes to help this team win. I think we can get penetration and mess up a bunch of plays this year. With this defense, though, no one can mess up or miss an assignment because it could turn into six points against us so it is extremely important we are all on the same page."

"There really is not one person who is standing out on the defensive line. It is more of a team effort. As long as everyone does their assignments right then we will be really good this year. Everybody on that line brings it hard every day, but with a new defense we are still making a few mistakes. Once we all get comfortable with the system I believe we have a chance to be really good."

DE TAVARES JONES ON THE DEFENSIVE PLAY TODAY: "We just wanted to come out today with enthusiasm, work hard, and try to get better. We were a little sluggish yesterday so it was important to have a good day today. We did some nice things today but the offense will come back around and I am sure they will be better next week. That is usually how it works."

JONES LIKES NEW POSITION: With the new coaching staff came a new position for junior Tavares Jones. With the new defense predicated on speed, Jones made the move from linebacker to defensive end during the spring and it has turned out to be a happy marriage for all parties involved.

"The move was not about me because I wanted to do what would help the team the most," said Jones. "That was the most important thing. I love the new position because I can go get the quarterback and just focus on being a good player because I do not have quite as many assignments as I did at linebacker."

The Swainsboro, Ga., native played his first two years in a reserve role at linebacker where he has collected 21 total tackles while also playing a key role on special teams.

"We are pleased with the position move for Tavares," said Stockstill. "He has an unbelievable motor and he brings it to practice every day."

MISCELLANEOUS: Former player Wes Stephens stopped by practice today and was able to meet Coach Stockstill and his staff for the first time ... Toward the end of practice during a controlled scrimmage, safety Ronald Steed made a nice over the head interception on a deep ball ... Tavares Jones was credited with a sack during the scrimmage.

NEXT PRACTICE: The Blue Raiders will hold their 11th practice of fall camp on Sunday from 3:45 PM to 5:00 PM.

BLUE RAIDER BLAST: The final "Blue Raider Blast" will be held in Downtown Murfreesboro on the square, Thursday, August 24, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. This event is geared toward Blue Raider fans, alumni, and supporters in Rutherford County and surrounding areas and all interested parties are encouraged to attend and meet Middle Tennessee players, coaches, athletic administrators and University administrators as the athletic department gears up for the start of the 2006-07 school year. Admission to the "Blue Raider Blast" is free; however, food provided by Whitt's Barbecue will be available for $5 per plate. The blast will include music, inflatables, face painting and a special guest appearance by Middle Tennessee mascot, "Lightning," to entertain the youngsters.

FAN/MEDIA DAY: Middle Tennessee's annual Fan/Media Day is scheduled for August 19 at Noon in Murphy Center. There will be free hot dogs and cokes given away while supplies last, games for the kids, and various drawings. Also, tickets will be on sale as well as this year's football media guide. As always, fans can get player autographs and photos so make plans now to check out this year's team as they prepare for the season-opener on Aug. 31.

FENTON PAYNE AND FRED 5K: On Saturday morning, Aug. 19, the third annual Fenton Payne and Fred 5K Run/Walk to take place on the campus of Middle Tennessee with Head Football Coach Rick Stockstill firing the starting gun. The event will get underway at 7:30 AM with registration at Peck Hall. The cost is $25 with cash prizes going to the winning male and female and the overall masters (40 years and over). There will also be awards to the top three finishers in all divisions, male and female, 9 and under, then 5 year age groups through 80 and over. For more information, contact Mark Hardison at 615-848-9063.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.