Raiders hold successful first scrimmage

Quarterback trio impresses

April 5, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee football team held its first spring scrimmage of the year Saturday in front of an overflowing crowd for Junior Day at the Dean A. Hayes Track and Soccer Stadium.

"For the first scrimmage of the spring I thought it went really well," said MT head coach Rick Stockstill. "I thought Kamani Thomas ran the ball really well. I thought our offensive lines, our ones and our twos, did a really good job. I especially liked the way our ones protected our quarterbacks today."

The Blue Raiders ran 102 plays on 19 drives in their first scrimmage of the spring season. Austin Grammer, A.J. Erdely and Brent Stockstill all split the quarterback duties. Stockstill led the passing game, going 12-for-18 for 202 yards and three touchdown passes. Erdely also had three touchdown passes, going 11-for-15 for 98 yards, while Grammer was 11-for-17 for 132 yards with one touchdown pass.

"I was pleased with the things the quarterbacks were able to do," Stockstill said. "We didn't take sacks, we threw the ball away and I don't think we threw an interception. They're going through their reads well; they're showing good pocket presence and they aren't getting rattled. They're also doing a great job from the leadership standpoint on the field so we have three really good quarterbacks."

Kamani Thomas led the ground game for MT with nine carries for 57 yards. For the quarterbacks, Erdely led the way on the ground with eight carries for 35 yards. Grammer had five carries for 33 yards, while recording the only rushing touchdown of the day. Stockstill had two carries for 22 yards.

Chris Perkins caught two touchdown passes to lead all receivers, recording three receptions for 92 yards, while Terry Pettis had eight receptions for 80 yards, including one touchdown pass. Marcus Henry got the scoring started for the Blue Raiders, recording the first touchdown of the day. He had two receptions for 60 yards, while Jermaine Dave collected a 17-yard touchdown pass for his only reception of the day.

"I do feel like my role will be bigger this year with guys like Kyle Griswould and Tavarres Jefferson graduating, but I have to step up too being a senior and be a leader for some of the younger guys," Perkins said. "It's very intentional to be that fast. If your offense can run an up-tempo offense you can wear down a defense quickly. So that's our game plan and what we want to do, and we're doing a good job so far."

Cody Clark and Canon Rooker split the kicking duties in the first scrimmage of the spring season. Clark was 3-for-3, starting things off with a 32-yard field goal. He then hit a 23-yard field goal and a 20-yarder. Rooker went 1-for-2, missing his first wide and to the left on a 39-yard field goal attempt. He connected on his second attempt, hitting a 25-yard shot.

The first defensive highlight came early in the hour-long scrimmage as Steven Rhodes forced a fumble. T.T. Barber recovered the fumble and ran for 12-yards. The other high point for the defense on the day came from Christian Henry, who collected three straight tackles towards the end of the scrimmage, including a big stop at the one-yard line. He finished the day with four tackles.

"We wanted to get a lot of the younger guys in on defense today so some of our older guys didn't play as much," Stockstill said. "But I thought we played hard today, I thought their tempo was good. I really like what Alexandro Antoine did today. I thought he stood out with some big tackles. I thought we played fast, but we were really basic today. We didn't blitz as much as normal; we just wanted to get them out and play. So there are some things we need to correct and we'll get that done in the next few weeks."

Xavier Walker and Quay Watt led the Blue Raider defensive stand on the day, recording five tackles each, while Alexandro Antoine had four. Rhodes, Jimal McBride, Patrick Martin, Cavellis Luckett, Ykeem Wells, Veion Robinson and Anfornee Stewart all had three tackles apiece. Veterans Barber and Kevin Byard didn't get a lot of minutes, but each recorded two tackles on the day.

"I thought it was a good day today," Byard said. "I felt like on both sides of the ball, we flew around and made plays. I feel like as a defense there are some things we need to work on and get better, but that's kind of expected for the first scrimmage so it was a good day."

The Blue Raiders will hold one more scrimmage before the Spring Game. This year's Spring Game will be held April 19 at 1 p.m. at the Dean A. Hayes Track and Soccer Stadium.

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