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Stockstill still high on Blue Raiders after two weeks

Blue Raiders end two-a-days

August 15, 2008 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Even though one more week remains in Middle Tennessee's preseason football camp the toughest part is behind the players as Friday marked the last of two-a-day practices.

Third-year Blue Raider head coach Rick Stockstill's evaluation of the team is high though, citing injuries to key personnel as the only negative in another otherwise solid first two weeks of fall camp.

"If you could take away the injuries it has probably been the best camp we have had - up to this point - since I have been here," Stockstill said. "They are a fun bunch of guys to coach and their effort, attitude and enthusiasm has been wonderful. The frustrating part is the injuries and because of that we have to force some other guys to go the entire practice. They don't get a bunch of rest in there so that's the only disappointment through the first two weeks."

Although two-a-days and the rigors that accompany them have subsided, Stockstill says fall camp continues until the start of classes, which is Aug. 25.

"The motto of most places I have been is when school starts camp is over and it is ironic here that when school starts it is game week, so we have another week of camp," Stockstill said.

And with a young team - 63 percent of Middle Tennessee's 71 scholarship players are either freshmen or sophomores - the additional week without classes could prove beneficial. Players will only practice once a day but there still will be position meetings, team meetings and workouts to help make the days seem like they have more than 24 hours in them.

"Players don't have the workload of going to class in addition to what we are doing next week," Stockstill said. "When we get into just practicing once a day next week they will start getting their legs back and everything. I like it this way and I think it's beneficial for our players and a team like ours, being as young as we are."

FINAL SCRIMMAGE SET: The Blue Raiders will conduct their third and final full-scale scrimmage of preseason Saturday at Floyd Stadium but it isn't anticipated to be a lengthy one.

The length of the scrimmage has nothing to do with Stockstill and staff being nice; rather, it has to do with limited numbers.

"We have so many injuries we won't be able to go as long as we have been," Stockstill said. "It is an important scrimmage but we have to try to get through this one healthy. We went 108 plays in the first scrimmage and 93 in the next one. I would anticipate this scrimmage won't be more than 70 or so snaps. It will be a pretty quick one." Some positions are still up for grabs and players are still jockeying for their place on the depth chart; however, Stockstill said he and the staff have seen enough to make clear evaluations to this point.

"We are to the point now where you have seen what everyone can do and what they can't," Stockstill said. "We have done enough situational scrimmage-type things out here so I feel good that we have been through enough of that to this point."

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS: Receivers Patrick Honeycutt, Michael Cannon, and Wes Caldwell had praise heaped on them by Stockstill following Friday morning's practice as the veteran coach said the three pass-catchers have exceeded his expectations so far during camp.

"Those three have had an excellent camp and done very well," Stockstill said. "They have probably exceeded my expectations and the three younger guys (Eldred King, Chris McClover, and Malcolm Beyah) continue to get better."

WILDCARD WEEKNIGHT: Middle Tennessee is offering a special ticket package for the two weeknight home football games against Troy (Aug. 28) and Florida Atlantic (Sept. 30). The package costs $30 and includes a reserved seat for both games and a coupon for a hot dog and soft drink for each game. To order tickets, contact the MTSU Ticket Office at (615) 898-2103.

LAST CALL: Tickets to Middle Tennessee's non-conference road games at Louisville, Kentucky and Mississippi State will be returned to the home schools in the near future. Any Blue Raider fans wanting to sit in the Middle Tennessee section at these road games must purchase their tickets through the Blue Raider Ticket Office. For tickets, call 1-888-YES-MTSU or access GoBlueRaiders.com site.

BRAA BUS TRIPS: The Blue Raider Athletic Association (BRAA) will be sponsoring bus trips to football games against Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi State, and Western Kentucky this season. Following are the costs for each trip: $60 plus ticket for Kentucky; $50 plus ticket for Louisville; $80 plus ticket for Mississippi State; and $35 plus ticket for WKU. For more details contact the BRAA office at 615-898-2210.

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