Blue Raiders have spirited practice; Await Saturday scrimmage
Stockstill anxious to see newcomers competeAugust 8, 2008 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Game-like situations early in fall camp generally do not carry as much significance as Middle Tennessee's will when the Blue Raiders go through their first full-scale scrimmage Saturday afternoon.
Although head coach Rick Stockstill isn't looking for players to nail down starting positions or make a dent on the depth chart, rest assured, Saturday's scrimmage will be imperative for a number of reasons. Foremost is how the young players perform.
"It's important from the standpoint that we are going to play so many young players this year so I'm excited to see how they get out there and play and see what they have learned during this first week of camp," Stockstill said. "We are going to turn them loose a little and see what they do and don't know at this point."
Middle Tennessee currently has 66 scholarship players healthy and eligible so an abundance of depth isn't evident. At this point, Stockstill isn't as concerned about that as he is what the players he does have do during the first scrimmage.
"I really want to see the offense come out and protect the football and have decent execution," Stockstill said. "I'm anxious to see how we tackle and I hope we don't give up big plays. If we can't protect the football, not have a bunch of penalties, execute and, defensively, tackle and not give up big plays, I'll be pleased. I know there will be mistakes but that's what we are trying to work out.
"I really want to see the energy, enthusiasm and our passion out there. Those are the type things I'll be watching."
Enthusiasm was rampant Friday as the Blue Raiders went through their first two-a-day of fall camp. The morning practice was a crisp two-hour workout filled with various competitive and team drills while the afternoon was a lighter workout as not to wear the players down too much prior to Saturday's scrimmage.
Limited numbers also have prompted Stockstill to change the scrimmage format. Saturday's scrimmage will not include kicking game or any special teams. Instead, that area will be covered in a separate scrimmage Monday.
"Normally when we scrimmage we always have kicking involved but we don't have enough (numbers) so instead of wearing everyone out on special teams for 30 minutes we will do special teams Monday," Stockstill said. "We will stretch (Saturday) and go right into the scrimmage."
NO QB CONTROVERSY: Middle Tennessee has the luxury of two solid signal-callers under center in senior Joe Craddock and sophomore Dwight Dasher. Stockstill indicated there is no clear-cut favorite for the starting job and that's not his primary concern at this moment.
In fact, the quarterback position appears to be the least of the concerns at this point.
"Dwight had a really good last four days and Joe was very sharp the first couple of days but not quite as sharp the last few," Stockstill said. "I'm in no hurry with those two. By the time we finish with our next scrimmage (Tuesday) we may have an idea but, if not, we will go up to kickoff if we need to. Those two have been rotating with the 1s and they have both done a good job. Somebody had to go first the opening day of camp and Joe was that guy."
GETTING THEIR FEET WET: Two of Middle Tennessee's junior college newcomers continue to make tremendous strides during camp and each say getting in the playbook and becoming acclimated to the various schemes and speed has been paramount.
Receiver Eldred King has been impressive from the outset. Ranked one of the top 25 junior college, King has been turning heads with his speed and quick learning.
"I feel I have adjusted well from junior college to Division I, so far," King said. "Of course, the speed of the game is faster but I'm a receiver so speed is my key and I believe I have adjusted so far. I know most of my plays. I'm about 75 percent of the way there. I feel like I'm one step from starting."
Defensive lineman Jarrett Crittenton also has enjoyed a solid first week and he also indicated learning the plays and continually working to get into solid shape is key.
"As soon as I get the plays down I believe I will be in good shape," Crittenton said. "Coming from junior college and playing here, it's much faster so I have to get the pace down and then I'll be OK, but I feel like I'm doing pretty well so far. We are making progress as a team and working to reach our goal of winning the Sun Belt Conference."
NEXT PRACTICE: The Blue Raiders will practice on Saturday at 3:25 PM and it will be the last practice open to the public.
SEASON TICKETS: 1-888-YES-MTSU OR GoBlueRaiders.com
FAN/MEDIA DAY: Meet the 2008 Blue Raiders and coaches at MTSU's Football Fan Day, Sunday, August 10 from 2 PM - 4 PM at the Murphy Center. Autographs, inflatables, hotdogs, and loads of fun will be on hand for all members of the Blue Raider family. Bring your kids and friends to get them ready for the 2008 football season. Show you're Blue Raider Pride and pick up 2008 football posters, schedule cards, ALL IN bumper stickers and yard signs. Fans who have taken part in the "ADD ONE" campaign by adding new season tickets to their account and fans who are becoming season ticket holders for the first time, can pick up their complimentary BLACK OUT t-shirts and car flags at Fan Day. Blue Raider fans who would like to purchase the official BLACK OUT t-shirt may do so for $15.00 which will include a ticket to the Sept. 30th game versus FAU.
FENTON PAYNE AND FRED 5K: On Saturday morning, Aug. 23, the fifth annual Fenton Payne and Fred 5K Run/Walk to take place on the campus of Middle Tennessee. 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.
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