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Thursday's football practice notes

Competition fierce during camp

August 13, 2009 · Athletic Communications

HEAD COACH RICK STOCKSTILL
On Thursday's Practice:
"I really liked the approach our players had toward practice today and I thought our coaches were enthusiastic and coached hard. We had to push through some heat today but the enthusiasm was great.

"The offense showed up today and consistently made plays from start to finish, but the defense was just okay. They did not match the intensity and sense of urgency of the offense."

On Tempo of Offense: "We are getting closer with every practice but we are not where we want to be yet. Our first unit is doing a good job but we still have a long way to go and a lot more work to get done."

OFFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Dwight Dasher completed 11-of-15 passes with one interception during the pass skeleton portion of practice. Two of the incompletes were drops. The top offensive play was a 45-yard scoring strike from Dasher to receiver Desmond Gee, who beat his defender hauled in a perfectly-thrown pass. Shane Blissard also had a good period with three receptions.

Dasher also connected with Blissard for a touchdown later in practice with the ball at the 10 going in. Dasher also rifled a touchdown to Andrew Banks, and Brent Burnette threw a scoring strike to Tavarres Jefferson during the same drill.

DEFENSIVE GEM: Linebacker Danny Carmichael has the day's defensive gem when he laid out for an interception during pass skeleton. Carmichael was covering a receiver in the flat when he dove headlong to pick off Dasher.

"We put that defense in today," Carmichael said. "I was in the flat and reading the quarterback and was just able to make a good play. Our defense wants to create more turnovers and give our offense good field position. We also hope to score more with our defense this year."

Carmichael also created a turnover when he deflected a Barry Cunningham pass that was intercepted by teammate Antwan Davis.

NO NEED FOR CONCERN: There is no reason to be concerned about the consistency Dasher displayed during pass skeleton drills Thursday. He completed 11-of-15 passes and looked particularly sharp during a stretch when he hit on seven of eight passes.

There is no defensive line or pressure on the quarterback so the secondary and linebackers have to cover longer than usual in some instances.

"We know the quarterbacks have a ton of time so if we are in man we are working on locking on your man and keeping eye control," defensive back Rod Issac said. "We are trying to keep our eyes on the man, not look in the backfield, so the biggest thing is to focus on your man and make sure you are there on him on all routes. The biggest thing is running with your man. If we are in zone you just want to make sure you are at your spots. We know what we are giving up in the zone but we want to be in the right spots, make sure you have your right set and break on the ball."

OL Mike Williams
ON FALL CAMP SO FAR: "So far it has been the best camp since I've been here. Everyone is picking up their assignments. The defense is going hard as is the offense and that has made for some intense practices."

ON RUN BLOCKING: "Last year running the ball was a weakness so we wanted to improve in the weight room and do a better job opening up these holes."

ARE YOU SURPRISED THE OFFENSE APPEARS TO BE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE?: "I am not surprised with were we are because everyone worked hard during the summer. Everyone hit the playbooks and we all knew what we wanted heading into the season and that's a championship."

WR Desmond Gee
ON COMPETITION: "Everyone has come out with a lot of enthusiasm. We all have a lot of determination to get this offense down pat in order to win games this year."

ON POSITION CHANGE FROM TAILBACK: "I enjoy the wide receiver position more and having a more stable spot in the offense. It's easier just trying to get one position down pat."

DB Rod Issac
ON COMPETITION: "I love the competition I am seeing. We are competing every day and that's one of the biggest thing we wanted to accomplish in this camp. Defense, offense, special teams, everyone is coming out and competing. We have guys giving players good looks. We are not just going through the motions and that's what I like about this year's camp so far."

ON THE RECEIVERS: "We are going against guys in practice that are not going to give up. They are going to push us as hard as they can because they want to be the best. They know facing us, a press team, is giving them the best look because most teams are going to play off of them."

LB Danny Carmichael
ON COMPETITION: "Both sides are competing. You see guys laying out for balls. The big guys on the boards are getting after it and really into it. I think our defense is ahead of schedule. The things we did in the offseason, on our own, has put us ahead of schedule because we have things down and we had to rely on one another during the summer because there are no coaches. I believe that's a big reason we are ahead right now."

Noteworthy: Former Blue Raider players Curtis Daniely (1999-2002) and Dennis Burke (2002-2005) dropped by practice today ... A scout from the New York Giants observed today's drills ... The Blue Raiders will don full pads for the first time on Friday.

NEXT PRACTICE: The Blue Raiders will practice on Friday at 3:45 PM and the workout is open to the public.

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

FAN DAY: Middle Tennessee's annual Fan Day will be held Sunday, August 16 from 2-4 PM in the Murphy Center. Make plans to visit with the players and coaches, get autographs, posters, and much more.

FENTON PAYNE AND FRED 5K: On Saturday morning, Aug. 15, the sixth annual Fenton Payne and Fred 5K Run/Walk to take place on the campus of Middle Tennessee. The event will get underway at 7:00 AM with registration located on the west side of Floyd Stadium in the concourse. 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 85+. New this year is a 1-Mile Kids Fun Run which will benefit Special Kids. For more information, contact Kerry Slicker at 615-796-1396.

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