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Raiders conduct final scrimmage before Spring Game

Annual Spring Game set for 1 p.m. next Saturday

April 12, 2014 · @MTAthletics

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MURFREESBORO - Middle Tennessee football conducted its final scrimmage on Saturday before next weekend's Spring Game at the Dean A. Hayes Track & Soccer Stadium.

The Blue Raiders ran 104 plays on a sunny day at the practice field. The defense forced seven turnovers, while the offense scored five touchdowns.

"I was pleased with the effort and I thought we competed hard on both sides of the ball," noted head coach Rick Stockstill. "We have to do a better job of protecting the ball offensively, but you have to give the defense some credit for forcing some turnovers today."

Three quarterbacks split the duties. Brent Stockstill completed 10 passes out of 18 attempts for 87 yards, a touchdown and one interception. Austin Grammer completed 4-of-12 for 89 yards and a touchdown. The redshirt sophomore ran six times for 62 yards, recording a rushing touchdown. A.J. Erdely went 7-of-12 for 72 yards and one interception.

Defensively, Patrick Martin tallied a team-best 10 tackles, while recording a pass breakup. Xavier Walker followed with seven stops and a tipped pass that resulted in a Chris Brown interception. Linebacker Quay Watt caused two turnovers, picking up a fumble recovery and snatching an interception. Michael Minter and Todney Evans combined for 12-yard tackle-for-loss midway through the scrimmage.

"It's our mentality," said Alexandro Antoine on the defense forcing seven turnovers. "We wanted to come out better than what we did last week. The offense scored too many times last week. We had a pretty good scrimmage and we fixed a lot of things that we did bad last week."

"The defense has made some improvements from the previous scrimmage," Coach Stockstill said. "Again it is never as good or as bad as you think when you are coming off the field. We are going to evaluate it. We made progress in certain areas and we didn't in some other areas. There are some highs and lows during spring practice. That is what you want. We will come out and keep competing these last four days to get better."

Redshirt freshman Kamani Thomas spearheaded the rushing attack with 86 yards on 16 carries. Franklin's Tony Rowland managed 77 yards on nine attempts with a 42-yard rushing touchdown. Chukwadi Echetebu finished the day with 15 yards and one rushing TD.

The senior wideout Chris Perkins caught four passes for 50 yards, while Christian Collis had two receptions for 48 yards. Demetrius Frazier scored the Raiders' lone touchdown with a snag from the quarterback Stockstill.

"I thought we competed really hard and hustled to the ball," said offensive lineman Darius Johnson. "We made a lot of plays, but turned the ball over a couple of times. All of that can be fixed with a little hard work."

Now with just a week of spring practice remaining, the Blue Raider coaching staff is focusing on making sure each individual gets better day by day.

"You just want to get better every day and that is what spring is about," said Stockstill. "Individually and collectively as a team, you try and get better every day. I think we are doing that and I think that in the younger guys you are seeing a bigger jump in their improvement. They have the most to improve on and the most to learn. You have to finish this thing out like winners do, like champions do, in these last four days and I know we will."

Middle Tennessee football wraps up spring drills on Saturday, April 19 with the annual Blue-White Spring Game presented by Xfinity and Kroger. Kickoff is set for 1 PM at the Dean Hayes Track and Soccer Stadium and admission is free.

The scrimmage will be offense vs. defense and there will be four 15-minute quarters with a continuous running clock. At halftime, Coach Stockstill will present the Spring Awards and recognize the returning lettermen.
Along with the game, there will be numerous activities available for the Blue Raider faithful. Tailgating will be encouraged at both Walnut Grove and the Greenland Drive parking lot the entire day, while an autograph session with Blue Raider players is scheduled prior to the game from 10:30 AM until 11:00 AM. Photo opportunities will also be available and roster cards will be handed out for free.

Following the autograph session, the athletic department will hold an Easter Egg Hunt at the nearby football practice field.

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