Saturday's football notebook

August 13, 2005 · MT Media Relations
(Practice No. 6)

SATURDAY SCRIMMAGE REPORT: On the first day of two-a-days, Middle Tennessee went through a 26-play scrimmage that saw both the offense and defense come away with highlights.

"There was a lot of competition out there today," said Head Coach Andy McCollum. "We were a little sloppy on Friday but we picked it up today and I was very pleased. Our experience definitely showed today."

The only score came on a 28-yard field goal by Colby Smith after QB Joe Craddock directed a 10-play drive that stalled at the 11-yard line. Craddock completed 2-of-3 passes for 20 yards and was aided by an interference call on third down that continued the drive. The drive was highlighted by a nice catch over the middle in traffic by Linnie Yarbrough and a nifty 10-yard run by freshman Alex Suber.

Starting QB Clint Marks was in on just four snaps and completed both his attempts for 24 yards, while Eugene Gross rushed for seven yards on the series.

Defensively, freshman Trevor Jenkins recovered a fumble on the second possession and Keon Raymond recorded a sack during the third possession. CB Bradley Robinson registered a pass breakup and linebacker Jonathan Bonner had two tackles for loss of yards.

COACH MCCOLLUM ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE: "I am very pleased with our offensive line. We are more physical than last year and have added some quality depth. Our veterans, like Germayle Franklin, Marcus Gates, and Willie Hall, continue to be solid, and Brandon Nix and Brian Smith are both playing well at guard. The play of Franklin Dunbar and Richard Bortner have really opened my eyes. These two young guys are really stepping up and showing us we can count on them. I like what I am seeing from our offensive line."

PUNTING UPDATE: Junior Colby Smith and freshman Michael Hinson took all the snaps during today's punt team practice. Smith averaged 42.3 yards on eight attempts, while Hinson averaged 36.9 yards on eight boots. Smith, who on Friday was named to the Preseason Lou Groza Award Watch List, has noticeably improved in the punting department. Along with adding distance, Smith's punts also have a lot more hang time. "I worked hard in the offseason and I am doing a lot more stretching," said Smith. "I think the increased stretching has really helped."

7-ON-7 STATS: Clint Marks completed 6 of 8 passes ... Joe Craddock went 8-for-9, while Josh Harris completed just one pass in seven attempts ... Patrick Johnson completed 6 of 8 passes ... Freshman Michael Cannon led all receivers with five catches.

GOING TO CHURCH: The Blue Raiders will meet at the weight room on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. and head to World Outreach Church for service. After lunch at the church, the team will rest and then come back for a two-hour special teams practice at 4:30 PM.

MEDIA CRUSH: Saturday mornings practice drew a large contingent of media as Brian McKeegan was on hand from Channel 5 and Tim Hardiman covered the practice for Channel 2. The Daily News Journal's Adam Sparks was on-hand as always, along with Chris Childers from Rivals.com.

TIDBITS: Coach McCollum had a welcomed surprise at Saturday morning practice when he looked over in the stands and spotted his father Johnny. "I had no idea he was coming today," said McCollum. "This is a great surprise." ... Dennis Burke's parents, Denny and Carolyn, also made the trip up from Marietta, Ga., for today's workout ... Former player David Youell was in attendance today as was Riverdale High School coach Gary Rankin ... In Sports Illustrated's most recent issue, the Blue Raiders were ranked No. 65 in the nation which was higher than 2005 opponents Troy (82), Vanderbilt (90), Akron (99), Louisiana-Lafayette (101), Louisiana-Monroe (107), Arkansas State (115), Florida Atlantic (117) and Florida International (119). The opponents listed ahead of MT were NC State (31), Alabama (41), and North Texas (63).

BLUE RAIDER BLAST: The final "Blue Raider Blast" will be held in Downtown Murfreesboro on the square, Thursday, August 18, 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 2005-06 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. Sponsored by the Middle Tennessee Alumni Office, the Blue Raider Athletic Association and the Middle Tennessee Athletic Department, the "Blue Raider Blasts" are designed to give fans an opportunity to meet with student-athletes, coaches and administrators and to officially start getting geared toward the beginning of all sports. Middle Tennessee also will be hosting the Sun Belt Conference men's and women's basketball tournament, the conference volleyball tournament and the men's and women's indoor track and field championships in 2005-06. For more information, contact the Alumni Office at 615-898-2922.

FAN/MEDIA DAY: Middle Tennessee's annual Fan/Media Day is scheduled for August 20 at Noon in Floyd Stadium. There will be free hot dogs and cokes given away while supplies last, games for the kids, and various drawings. Also, tickets will be on sale as well as this year's football media guide. As always, fans can get player autographs and photos so make plans now to check out this year's team as they prepare for the season-opener on Sept. 3.

FENTON PAYNE AND FRED 5K: On Saturday morning, Aug. 20, the second 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.