Blue Raiders conduct second fall scrimmage
Offense makes strides in full-scale workoutAugust 12, 2008 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Quarterback play was strong and ball security was even better as Middle Tennessee completed its second scrimmage of fall camp inside Floyd Stadium Tuesday evening.
Signal-callers Joe Craddock and Dwight Dasher combined to complete 24-of-39 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns as the offensive unit continued to show improvement with each passing day. More importantly, the unit had no turnovers in 91 offensive plays.
"Offensively we were more productive and consistent (than on Saturday)," Blue Raider head coach Rick Stockstill said. "We did a good job taking care of the ball and we didn't have as many bad plays, negative plays, and we were able to complete more passes. We had a couple big plays that we didn't get (in Saturday's scrimmage)."
On an otherwise impressive day for the offense the only negatives were two costly penalties - one that negated a beautiful 69-yard catch and run by Patrick Honeycutt and another that wiped out a completion early in the scrimmage.
"The disappointing thing was the penalties," Stockstill said. "We had a touchdown called back and (Craddock) had completed a pass for a first down and that was called back because Mark Thompson was offsides. We can't hurt ourselves like that but otherwise I was pretty pleased."
Dasher completed 12-of-20 passes for 118 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown strike to Wes Caldwell. He also displayed his running ability with 14 yards on eight carries, including a 1-yard rush to conclude the scrimmage.
The sophomore dual-threat quarterback had an 18-yard scoring run but he was whistled down at the 5 before finishing the drive off with a rifle pass to Caldwell. Dasher's ground game would have accumulated much more rushing yardage if not for having several plays blown dead because he and Craddock wear the red jersey in practices and scrimmages.
"It does get frustrating at times," Dasher said, referring to plays being stopped even though he hasn't been tackled or touched. "I have on the red jersey so they are going to blow it dead as soon as someone gets near me. I know that, too, so even when I know I can run I still throw it because they aren't going to let me run. It's a team thing."
It's more of a safety precaution, especially given Middle Tennessee's bad luck with injuries throughout the first 10 days of camp. Craddock, who completed 12-of-19 passes for 114 yards and a 12-yard scoring strike to Chris McClover, also had potential big plays stopped when defenders got too close.
"It probably is a little frustrating for Dwight and Joe but we have to try and protect them because they are the only two we have to play," Stockstill said. "You can't always look at the end result in a scrimmage. You have to look at the film and then you realize, 'Yeah, he probably would have made that guy miss.' Sometimes when you watch the film you realize the play was more productive than what the end result was."
McClover, a newcomer from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., enjoyed a strong second scrimmage with six receptions for 90 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown grab where he used his 6-foot-5 frame to go over a defensive back and haul in the catch. Another newcomer, freshman Malcolm Beyah, had four receptions for 40 yards, while Honeycutt hauled in four catches for 40 yards.
The ground attack was spread amongst 10 ball carriers with Desmond Gee leading the way with 18 yards on seven carries.
All in all, it was another good day for newcomers as players on each side of the ball impressed. In addition to the offensive standouts, defensive newcomers Jarrett Crittenton, Gorby Loreus, and Marcus Udell all had their moments. Crittendon blocked a field goal, had two pass break-ups and one tackle for loss. Redshirt freshman Terans Goodson had two sacks and a pass break-up, and Loreus had a sack and teamed with Alex Suber for a tackle for loss.
"The new guys are getting better everyday and hopefully they will be a lot better at midseason than they are at the beginning of the year because they are getting better out here each day," Stockstill said. "Every day is a new experience for them. There are growing pains but they are getting better and I think they all have a chance to be productive players for us."
Freshman kicker Alan Gendreau has enjoyed a strong camp but Tuesday was not one of the better days as he was 1-for-3 on field goals, connecting from 39 yards. He had a 38-yard attempt blocked on the first possession of the scrimmage and his 40-yard attempt late in the scrimmage went off the right upright. David DeFatta was good on his only attempt from 25 yards.
The last five possessions of the scrimmage were from the defense's 35. The defense held on the first two possessions before allowing two touchdowns and field goal on the final three series.
"I didn't think we tackled very well and that was the disappointment defensively," Stockstill said. "I think they are fighting and their effort is good. I am pleased with that but we have to tackle better. We were a little limited because we were without two of our defensive ends (Chris McCoy and Jamari Lattimore) who are hurt so we had a lot of guys who had to go a bunch of reps. It's the same with everybody and that's just where it is right now."
The defense managed to keep the offense off the scoreboard for the first three series and 10 of the first 11.
The Blue Raiders return to practice at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday for their third two-a-day session of preseason practice. Middle Tennessee opens the season at home against Troy, Aug. 28.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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