Blue Raiders return to practice

Grind week begins with three two-a-days

August 16, 2010 · Athletic Communications

Stockstill on Monday's Practice: I thought we came off of a good scrimmage on Saturday night from an effort standpoint, but not from an execution standpoint. I was disappointed with this morning's practice. I thought it was a very lethargic, lackadaisical practice. The first 15-16 periods we just went thru the motions, then picked it up toward the end. We ended up practicing the last six or seven periods like we should have practiced the whole time.

We had a couple of guys on offense, Dwight Dasher and Phillip Tanner and Benny Cunningham, who I thought had good practices. They went hard, and like we expect them to practice every time out.

We had a few on defense, Dwight Smith, Jamari Lattimore, Emmanuel Perez, Rod Issac, Jeremy Kellem, but that's not enough. I thought it was not a very good practice overall. We wasted half a practice before getting better down the stretch.

Sancho McDonald on a week of two-a-days: "This is the hardest week of practice, its two-a-days and your legs are getting tired. You're mentally tired, your legs are tired, your whole body is tired, and you still have to come out here and perform. This is where we divide the men from the boys, and see who plays on September 2nd."

"That's what makes it a grind, when you are tired, but you still have to go out there and get it done. That is how you can be the main guy. When your legs hurt, you have to give extra effort. It's a team thing, and we all have to fight through it."

Sancho McDonald on his junior season: "My personal goal is to elevate my game and be the go-to receiver this season. On third and 15, fourth and one, I know Dwight (Dasher) is coming to me. No matter what, two guys, three guys on me, he is coming to me and I have to come up with the ball. No excuses. I feel a lot better than I did last year. I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder, and that I have something to prove. I'm a starter and I really have to focus on what I have to do on my assignments."

1. What Blue Raider would do the best on "Dancing with the Stars"? Craig Allen
2. Who has the best nickname on the team, and what is it? Kenneth Gilstrap - Radio
3. Which one of your teammates would be the most likely to appear on "Survivor"? WR Garrett Andrews
4. What teammate would most likely get involved in politics? OL Mark Fisher
5. From the Twilight series, do you like Team Edward or Team Jacob? Both
6. Who should be the next judge on American Idol? Charles Barkley
7. What Super Hero would you like to be! Flash
8. What food did your mother have to make you eat as a youngster before you left the table? Tacos
9. What song would you pick to be played when the Blue Raiders run out onto the field before a home game? "Here I Go"

FISHER READY TO LEAD OFFENSIVE LINE: Senior offensive tackle Mark Fisher, a pre-season All-Sun Belt Conference performer for 2010, now has the mantle of leadership on his shoulders, not only for his fellow O-line teammates, but for the Blue Raiders as a whole. This is a responsibility and challenge that he welcomes.

"I feel a responsibility to the team to be a leader, to go out there and practice as hard as I can, and to keep the enthusiasm up," Fisher declared.

Fisher says the pre-season mentions are not a factor.

"Just because I have received some pre-season accolades, it doesn't put any more pressure on me," added Fisher. "They are great, but they don't mean anything until the end of the season. I still have to go out there like everybody else, practice hard, and drive until the whistle blows on every play."

Fisher is not a vocal person, preferring to lead by example "about 90% of the time. Sometimes I will speak up, but not often."

Fisher's former teammate and good friend Mark Thompson, who earned All-Sun Belt honors in 2009 as the only senior offensive lineman on the team, has said that this year's O-line would be "scary good." What did he mean by that?

"When we were coming up through the ranks we lacked the experience and knowledge of the offense," pointed out Fisher. "I am the only senior this year, and the rest of them are juniors who came in and played as freshmen, and we have the experience, we know what to do. We've seen all kinds of blitzes, all kinds of defenses. We know what to do. In years past, that had not always been the case, but this year we should be very experienced."

Emmanuel Perez on Grind Week: "Individually, "Grind Week" is when individuals push themselves to see who is going to be a factor that wasn't last year. Who is going to step up? As a team, we establish our identity, set our tempo, see who's going to help out, and what kind of players we have when the going gets tough."

Emmanuel Perez on the play of the ends: "Omar (McClendon) and (Dearco) Nolan are working really, really hard, and I give them 100 percent credit. They have been working from the first day they got here. Effort is not a problem. Omar is going to be a great player before he leaves here. He is doing a great job of pushing me and making me work.

"Lat (Jamari Lattimore) is pushing everybody too. He is just so dynamic, his pad level is always good, his footwork is good, and he has good balance. Folks are pushing him, but at the same time, he is pulling them along, too."

FOOTBALL HIGHLIGHT VIDEO IS READY: "March to New Orleans", presented by The Cavender Financial Group, is on its way to season ticket holders who took advantage of the early bird renewal special after the 2009 New Orleans Bowl and is available for sale in local stores.

The 49-minute video is a permanent record of the memorable 2009 season that included wins over Memphis and Maryland, the first visit to Floyd Stadium by an SEC team, a seven-game winning streak to close out the year, and the New Orleans Bowl victory over Southern Mississippi. Chocked full of highlights, the story of the incredible season is told from the point of view of many of the players and Coach Rick Stockstill.

"March to New Orleans" is on sale for $20 per copy at the Floyd Stadium Ticket Office, Lightning's Locker Room, Phillips Bookstore, The Learning Circle, and Reeves-Sain Drug Store.

NEXT PRACTICE: The Blue Raiders will practice on Tuesday at 3:50 PM. The practice is CLOSED.

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

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