Blue Raiders end two-a-days

Craddock, Walden return to practice

August 20, 2007 · MT Media Relations
  • Photos: Practice Gallery

    "This morning's practice was pleasing from the standpoint of how they went about it. I told our players (Sunday) that today's practice was going to be a tough practice with situations we really needed to work and they needed to come back ready to improve. They came out with effort, toughness and intensity and I was pleased with that."

    ON TEAM'S PROGRESS DURING CAMP: "I think we have improved in some areas but we still have a long way to go. We have to keep grinding and finding the right combinations with the opener upon us."

    ON TWO-A-DAYS: "I think people put too much emphasis on two-a-days. Last year we had four and this year we would have had five but we gave them one practice off so we had four. When you don't have the numbers and you end up practicing the same guys over and over, it makes it tough. Players practice better in the one-a-days because they are fresher and their mind is fresher."

    UPON FURTHER REVIEW: After watching film of Saturday's scrimmage, Stockstill wasn't as displeased with the offense as he was originally. In fact, the second-year head coach said he saw positives from the workout.

    "I believe practices, scrimmages and games are usually never as good as what you think and they are never as bad as what you think, either," Stockstill said. "After watching the film Saturday I didn't think it was that bad offensively, other than the snaps. If we could have gotten the snaps early then I think it would have been a lot better for the offense. Defensively, there were a lot of encouraging things but I do believe we can tackle better."

    BACK TO WORK: Quarterback Joe Craddock returned to practice Monday morning and the competitive workhorse brought energy to the unit.

    "It felt good to be back out there and practicing. I don't want to feel like a guy on the sideline not helping the team," Craddock said. "I seem my teammates out there working hard and it makes you want to be out there helping."

    Although Craddock missed about one week of reps with a groin injury he was not totally out of action as he continued to focus on the mental part of his position.

    "Even though I was hurt and couldn't practice I was able to stay in it mentally by standing back there, watching the defense, making my reads and checks and seeing what the defense was doing," Craddock said. "There's always something you can be doing to improve, even if you can't go through the contact drills."

    DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MANNY DIAZ ON THE DEFENSE: "We have really been pleased with the defense the past two days. The kids have come out with spirit and a great attitude. You can not be a great defense without enthusiasm and that is hard to do consistently during fall camp but when it gets tough you have to count on your leaders. The enthusiasm is not a rah rah thing. It's the way you play the game and it becomes contagious."

    ON HAVING ERIK WALDEN BACK: "It picks everybody up because he is such a physical presence. You always want to have all your bullets in your gun. He is a very important player for this defense and it was great to have him back."

    DEPTH CHART: "We are still trying to find the best 11. Like in the secondary, we may have three safeties who are our best players or it may be three corners. Who ever the 11 best players are will be on the field for the first play against FAU."

    STEPPING UP: "Trevor Jenkins has stepped up his play the past few days and Wes Hofacker is so underrated and is enjoying a solid camp. Danny Carmichael has been impressive at linebacker and Gary Tucker has been a surprise. Gary has not played for us but he is starting to get in the mix."

    SURPRISE: As a surprise to the players, Head Coach Rick Stockstill canceled the afternoon practice on Monday to officially end two-a-day drills. The message was received by numerous cheers from the players. "We have had 20 practices in 14 days, that's practice, meeting every day and night, so I just believe they needed today off from the mental standpoint," said Stockstill. "It is really a combination of them needing it, earning it, and giving our guys that are banged up a little extra time to get treatment."

    NEXT PRACTICE: The Blue Raiders will practice on Tuesday beginning at 3:50 PM.

    SEASON TICKETS: 1-888-YES-MTSU OR GoBlueRaiders.com

    BLUE RAIDER BLAST: The final "Blue Raider Blast" will be held in Downtown Murfreesboro on the square, Thursday, August 23, 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 2007-08 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.

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