Archive | MTSU Football

2 Raiders honored after Old Dominion win

2 Raiders honored after Old Dominion win

Posted on 29 September 2014 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee safety Kevin Byard and quarterback Austin Grammer earned awards today following the Blue Raiders’ impressive road win against Old Dominion on Friday.

Byard was voted the Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Week, while Grammer was selected as a Manning Award Star of the Week.

Byard provided Middle Tennessee’s first touchdown against ODU with a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. It was the first punt return of Byard’s career. The 76-yarder was the longest in MT’s FBS era (since 1999) and was the ninth longest in school history. The punt return sparked a Blue Raider run that saw them go up 24 unanswered points in a 6:29 stretch of the second quarter. Defensively, Byard also recorded a forced fumble and an interception.

Grammer accounted for 326 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in Middle Tennessee’s 41-28 win against Old Dominion. The sophomore accounted for 61 percent of Middle Tennessee’s 539 yards and set a career high for completions with 25. He connected on 25-of-30 passes for 259 yards and his 83.3 completion percentage was fifth on the MT single-game list. He also rushed for 67 yards, including rushing touchdowns of 7 and 10 yards.

The Blue Raiders will return home this Saturday to face Southern Miss. Kickoff is set for 11 AM from Floyd Stadium.

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Raiders top Old Dominion

Raiders top Old Dominion

Posted on 27 September 2014 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee flexed its muscle and showed great determination while excelling in all three phases of the game in a 41-28 win against Old Dominion in a nationally-televised game Friday.

The Blue Raiders piled up 539 yards and had two players establish career highs, their defense registered six sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery, and Middle Tennessee also scored a special teams touchdown when Kevin Byard went 76 yards to hit paydirt.

Middle Tennessee (3-2, 2-0) maintained its lead atop the C-USA standings, while ODU (3-2, 1-1) suffered its first league loss.

Austin Grammer enjoyed a career night. He completed 25-of-30 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. His 83.3 completion percentage was fifth all-time. Grammer also rushed for 67 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 25 completions were a career high.

Tailback Jordan Parker was a beast. He rushed for a career-high 158 yards on 31 carries to lead a ground attack that churned out 280 yards behind a determined offensive line that turned in a strong performance both in pass protection and run blocking.

Not only did Byard return a punt for a touchdown, but he also forced a fumble and hauled in an interception.

Middle Tennessee jumped out to a 24-0 lead but ODU wouldn’t go quietly.

ODU had pulled to within 24-14 midway through the third quarter when Grammer came up with one of his biggest drives of the early season.

Grammer marched the Blue Raiders 63 yards in seven plays and capped the impressive drive with a 10-yard touchdown run – his second rushing touchdown of the game. Grammer was 3-for-4 on the drive with Terry Pettis hauling in two passes for 36 yards. The biggest came on a third-and-6 play from the ODU 28. Grammer eluded tacklers and somehow got the pass off to Pettis who made an acrobatic grab. Grammer ran in from the 10 one play later as the Blue Raiders quickly answered the ODU scoring drive.

The drive was even bigger when ODU came right back on the following drive and answered with a score to once again pull to within 10, 31-21, going into the fourth quarter.

Just as before Middle Tennessee combined stingy defense with a striking offense to pull away.

ODU had possession down 31-21 but Blue Raider defenders Shubert Bastien and Leighton Gasque came up with back-to-back sacks to force a punt. The two sacks on the drive gave Middle Tennessee six in the game at that point.

Middle Tennessee came right back on Grammer’s hot hand. Grammer connected with Marcus Henry for a 53-yard scoring strike to extend the Blue Raider lead to 38-21 with 10:48 remaining. It was Grammer’s 25th completion.

After ODU scored to pull to within 38-28, Middle Tennessee answered once again when Cody Clark connected on a 29-yard field goal. Clark’s second successful kick of the game pushed the lead to 41-28 with 5:18 remaining.

Byard sealed the win with his 12th career interception with less than four minutes remaining. He is sixth on the all-time list for interceptions.

The high-scoring affair started as a defensive struggle as the teams battled to a scoreless tie after the first quarter.

Both teams were guilty of turnovers in the red zone in the first quarter. The second quarter was a different story for Middle Tennessee.

The Blue Raiders scored 17 points in a span of 2:09 to bolt to a 17-0 lead with 11:21 remaining in the first half. Grammer added a 7-yard touchdown run later in the quarter as Middle Tennessee extended its cushion to 24-0. ODU scored before the half to pull to within 24-7 at intermission.

Middle Tennessee’s defense forced three first-half turnovers. T.T. Barber hauled in his fifth career interception to stop an early drive. Shon Akins, making his first career start at corner, collected an interception at the ODU 27 to set up a Blue Raider score. Byard’s forced fumble and Jared Singletary’s recovery was a big turning point early.

The Blue Raiders dominated the first quarter but settled for a scoreless tie. They dominated time of possession and the line of scrimmage.

An impressive Middle Tennessee drive stalled at the ODU 6 when Cody Clark came on to boot a 23-yard field goal that provided the Blue Raiders a 3-0 lead with 13:30 remaining in the half.

After the Blue Raider defense forced a three-and-out, Byard continued to make his presence known with a spectacular special teams play when he took the punt and raced 76 yards for a touchdown. Clark’s extra point pushed the lead to 10-0. Making Byard’s return even more impressive was the fact it was the first of his career. It was the longest in MT’s FBS era (since 1999) and the ninth longest in school history.

Akins collected an interception on the following ODU drive and the Blue Raiders converted it into points when Grammer connected with Shane Tucker for a 27-yard touchdown. The point after extended the lead to 17-0 with 11:21 remaining in the half.

Grammer added a 7-yard touchdown run midway through the quarter. ODU narrowed the margin to 24-7 with a scoring drive just before halftime.

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MTSU falls in Memphis

MTSU falls in Memphis

Posted on 21 September 2014 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee could not find its stride against Memphis in a 36-17 setback at the Liberty Bowl here Saturday.

The Blue Raiders (2-2) mustered 328 yards total offense and were guilty of two turnovers that proved costly and Memphis’ defense scored on a fumble return and a safety as the Tigers (2-1) controlled the game from the outset.

Middle Tennessee could not get its ground game going and battled poor starting field position most of the game. When the Blue Raiders did move the ball inside Tiger territory, twice they turned it over to thwart scoring opportunities.

Quarterback Austin Grammer was 25-of-37 for 247 yards but he also was guilty of a fumble that led to a touchdown and an interception. Memphis native Shane Tucker scored two touchdowns in his return to his hometown, and sophomore receiver Demetrius Frazier had a breakout night with seven receptions for 96 yards. Frazier came into the game with seven career receptions. He had five catches for 84 yards on a Blue Raider scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

The Blue Raiders managed just 81 yards on the ground with Reggie Whatley leading the way with 41.

Memphis, on the other hand, piled up 271 yards on the ground and finished with 482 yards total offense. The Tigers built a 19-7 halftime lead and the Memphis defense would not allow the Blue Raiders to put together sustained drives.

Misfortune plagued the Blue Raiders at the start of the third quarter. Middle Tennessee went three-and-out on its first possession but the Raider defense returned the favor by holding Memphis to three-and-out. The Memphis punt was short and hit a Blue Raider player. Memphis recovered. Instead of Middle Tennessee starting the drive near midfield, Memphis retained possession inside Blue Raider territory.

The blue-clad defense stood strong, forcing a three-and-out but it did enable Memphis to flip the field and pin the Blue Raiders inside their 10. After going three-and-out Middle Tennessee had to punt and Memphis regained possession near midfield. The Tigers drove to the Raider 12 but the defense came up huge on a third-and-2 play and forced a 29-yard field goal, pushing the Memphis lead to 22-7.

Middle Tennessee answered on its next drive. Starting at its 25, Middle Tennessee marched to the Tiger 19 before the drive stalled and the Blue Raiders settled for a 36-yard Cody Clark field goal to pull the Raiders to within 22-10. Sophomore quarterback Austin Grammer was 4-for-5 on the drive with four straight completions.

Middle Tennessee’s defense bent but didn’t break again on Memphis’ next drive. The Tigers drove the Blue Raider 33 but came up short on a third-down conversion. Jake Elliott’s 51-yard field goal was right.

Memphis finally provided the dagger early in the fourth quarter when Lynch connected with Cross for a 50-yard touchdown. The extra point pushed the Memphis lead to 29-10 with 12:51 remaining.

The Tigers made sure a Blue Raider comeback was not probable when its defense scored minutes later. Middle Tennessee was moving and Grammer’s 11-yard rush moved the ball to the Tigers’ 41 before he fumbled. Memphis’ Bobby McCain scooped up the football and returned it 59 yards for the touchdown. The extra point provided a comfortable 36-10 lead for the Tigers.

Any lingering hopes of a fantastic finish were dashed when Middle Tennessee gave up its second turnover in as many possessions. Grammar had marched the Blue Raiders inside the Memphis 30. He was intercepted at the Tiger 17 as Memphis took back over with 8:05 remaining to essentially put the finishing touches on the victory.

Poor starting field position coupled with an inability to move the football created problems for the Blue Raiders throughout the first half. Take away the drive Middle Tennessee started following an interception and the average field position for the Blue Raiders on the other four possessions was the 13.5 yard line.

An inability to convert third downs and move the football enabled the Tigers, on the other hand, to work with a short field most of the first half. As a result, Memphis bolted to a 19-7 lead midway through the first half.

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch hit Alan Cross on a six-yard scoring pass to give the Tigers the early lead with 11:41 remaining in the first quarter. The Blue Raiders had stopped the Tigers and forced a punt on the opening drive but a personal foul penalty kept the drive alive and Memphis made the infraction hurt when it finished the drive with a touchdown.

Field position set up the Tigers’ second score. After a punt pinned the Blue Raiders at their 1, Memphis collected a sack of Austin Grammer in the end zone to increase the advantage to 9-0.

Middle Tennessee’s defense provided the Blue Raiders with their first break when Xavier Walker hauled in his second career interception to halt another Tiger drive at midfield. The Blue Raiders converted the turnover into points when Memphis native Shane Tucker scored from the 1. Cody Clark’s point after cut the Memphis lead to 9-7.

Memphis tacked on a field goal and a touchdown on its next two drives to stretch the lead to 19-7 midway through the first half.

Middle Tennessee’s defense came up with a big play late in the half to curtail another Memphis drive in Raider scoring position. Facing fourth-and-2 from the Middle Tennessee 31, Memphis opted to go for the first down instead of attempting a 48-yard field goal. The Tigers came into the game three-for-three on fourth-down attempts but Shaquille Huff made a huge stop on the play to turn the ball over to the Raider offense on downs.

The Blue Raider offense had difficulty getting untracked in the first half. The unit totaled just 112 yards in the first half and collected just six first downs. Memphis piled up 18 first down in the first half on its way to 286 yards total offense, including 181 on the ground.

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Raiders fall to Minnesota

Raiders fall to Minnesota

Posted on 07 September 2014 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee football surged back in the second half, but fell short in a 35-24 loss to Big Ten power Minnesota on Saturday in front of 47,223 fans at TCF Bank Stadium.

Minnesota (2-0) dominated the first half with their potent rushing attack, taking a 28-point advantage at the break. However, the Blue Raiders (1-1) got its offense going by outscoring the Gophers 24-7 in the second half.

Offensively, Middle Tennessee netted 445 yards on 81 plays, while holding Minnesota to 351 yards on 61 plays. The Gophers capitalized on two first half interceptions to take a commanding lead early on. The Blue Raiders amped up its offense in the second with tailback Reggie Whatley scoring two of the three Raider touchdowns. Whatley finished with 84 yards on 14 carries, including his 44-yard touchdown run. The MT rushing attack ran 43 times, collecting 190 yards. Jordan Parker followed Whatley with 67 yards on 13 carries.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Austin Grammer completed 22-of-38 for 255 yards and touchdown, while throwing three interceptions. Eight different players caught passes with Ed’Marques Batties reeling in eight grabs for 88 yards. Marcus Henry had the lone MT touchdown catch with a three-yard grab late in the fourth quarter. Henry finished the day with five catches for 58 yards.

MT’s defense was anchored by veteran T.T. Barber, who led the squad with 14 tackles. He was one shy of tying his career-best of 15 set at BYU last season. Jared Singletary, Kevin Byard and Chris Henry all finished with seven stops a piece. Byard picked up his 11th career interception late in the first half, which tied him for sixth all-time in program history.

Turnovers and penalties hampered the Raiders in the first half. MT finished with three interceptions and nine penalties for 80 yards.

Minnesota was held in check with their first drive after missing a field goal attempt. However, the Gophers capped off a 69-yard, 10-play drive with a Donnell Kirkwood one-yard touchdown.

The second quarter start was rough for the Blue Raiders. Jalen Myrick intercepted Grammer and ran 31 yards for a touchdown to put the Gophers up 14. Just over a minute later, Minnesota would pick up another interception and score one play later.

Minnesota stretched its lead to 28-0 at the half. The Gophers ran 24 of their 33 offensive plays on the ground, compiling 152 rushing yards and 219 total. Tailback David Cobb led the first half rushing attack with 111 yards on 14 carries.

Offensively, the Raiders were limited to 157 total yards in the opening stanza. Grammer completed 10-of-19 for 82 yards and two interceptions. Shane Tucker led the rushing attack with 23 yards on three carries.

Urgency was certainly the key for Middle Tennessee to start the second half. The Raiders ran down the field 75 yards in three plays. Whatley busted for a season-long 44-yard touchdown to give MT its first score of the game.

The Raiders drove down the field on their next drive to set up a scoring opportunity. A touchdown catch by Pettis was overturned due to being out of bounds. MT had three more chances after a penalty, but were unable to capitalize. Cody Clark hit a 21-yard field goal, cutting Minnesota’s lead to 28-10 with less than nine minutes left in the third quarter.

Cobb continued to plow through middle and ran 48 yards to extend the Gophers’ edge to 25. The bruiser completed the game with the most rushing yards for a Gopher since 2005 with 220 yards on 29 rushes.

Special teams once again came into play in the third quarter when Murfreesboro native Chase Pennycuff blocked a Minnesota punt to give the Raiders the ball at the 12-yardline. Whatley made the Gophers pay with a run on the next play, his second touchdown of the third quarter. MT added its final touchdown late in the fourth quarter with a pass from Grammer to Henry, cutting the score to 35-24.

Middle Tennessee returns home to take on archrival WKU next Saturday, Sept. 13 in a 6 p.m. showdown at Floyd Stadium. The contest is tabbed the Blackout contest and is the first game for the Hilltoppers as members of Conference USA.

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MTSU dominates Savannah State 61-7

MTSU dominates Savannah State 61-7

Posted on 30 August 2014 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee strung together an impressive performance to stifle Savannah State 61-7 in the Raiders’ 100th season-opener at Floyd Stadium on Saturday.

The Raiders (1-0) produced 519 yards of offense and limited the Tigers on defense to 219 yards. The Raiders’ 61 points and 54-point margin was the largest ever in a season-opener. The previous record occurred in 1954 when MT put up 52 against Stewart Air Force Base.

Despite rainy conditions throughout the game, the Raiders jumped out early marching down the field 75 yards to take a 6-0 lead. MT added 28 more points in the first half to take a 34-0 lead.

Redshirt junior Austin Grammer had a stellar debut as starter, completing 15-of-17 passes for 88.2 percent, which matched the second-best in school history. Grammer threw passes of 50 and 47 yards, respectively. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama native finished with 250 yards and a touchdown.

MT used its strong corps of receivers as five different players had 30-plus yards. Marcus Henry totaled 84 yards, including a 47-yard catch from Grammer. Ed’Marques Batties caught four passes for 42 yards. Junior tailback Jordan Parker had the longest catch of the day in the first quarter, reeling in a 50-yard strike from Grammer.

The Raiders had nine different backs tote the pigskin, netting 228 yards and six rushing touchdowns. Jeremiah Bryson and Shane Tucker posted two touchdowns each. Reggie Whatley added 65 yards, while Tony Rowland connected on 63.

Defensively, the Raiders forced two fumbles and picked up an interception. Trey Wafford returned a 20-yard fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter. In the first half, Kevin Byard picked up his 10th career interception, which tied him for seventh in program history.

Linebacker Quay Watt led the Blue Raider defense with seven stops. Leighton Gasque and Shaquille Huff each added a sack, while T.T. Barber posted two tackles-for-loss.
On the opening drive, sophomore Shane Tucker barreled through for a 13-yard touchdown to give MT a six-point edge. The Raiders subsequently missed the two-point conversion. Grammer found Parker for a 50-yard strike on the Blue Raiders second drive of the day. It would set up a five-yard touchdown pass from Grammer to Tucker. Erdely ran in the third touchdown of the day with a three-yard scamper up the middle, giving MT a 20-point edge.

In the third quarter, the Raiders blocked their 49th kick in the Rick Stockstill era when Raynard Felton rejected a field goal. It marked the first blocked field goal since 2012 against FIU. Batties showed his versatility with a 61-yard punt return in the third quarter, stretching MT’s edge to 47-0.

Middle Tennessee hits the road next week for a 2:30 p.m. contest. The game is televised on the Big Ten Network.

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Raiders set to open 100th season

Raiders set to open 100th season

Posted on 29 August 2014 by Allen

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Rick Stockstill enters his ninth season as Head Football Coach of Middle Tennessee on Saturday night, and the team that he will send against visiting Savannah State may be his youngest Blue Raider team ever. But it is not without talented athletes, and how fast they gain experience and maturity will go a long way in determining what kind of season 2014 will be.

The game will be aired on the Blue Raider Network, with veteran play-by-play announcer Chip Walters being joined in the announcing booth by former Blue Raider linebacker Dennis Burke, who will provide insight and analysis of the game.

The contest will be broadcast on 89.5 FM, 102.5 FM, 97.5 FM, 100.5 FM, 101.9 FM and 1450 AM. Live stats will be available at GoBlueRaiders.com. The game will not be televised.

This will be the third time that Middle Tennessee and Savannah State have played football against each other. The Blue Raiders have won both of the previous games, 12-3 at Savannah State in 1982, and 51-0 in Murfreesboro the following year. Both games were season openers for teams coached by Boots Donnelly.

Under Stockstill, the Blue Raiders are coming off of back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time since 1992, and are picked to finish second in the Eastern Division of Conference USA behind a Marshall team that some prognosticators feel could have an undefeated season.

The Blue Raiders closed the 2013 campaign with five consecutive wins to earn a spot in the Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas against Navy.

The 2014 edition of Middle Tennessee football will be no different from any of the previous teams that Stockstill has coached. The emphasis will be on a stout defense and a strong running game.

Defensively, Middle Tennessee returns a host of battle-tested veterans, led by two juniors, linebacker T.T. Barber and safety Kevin Byard. Barber is on the Lombardi Watch List, while Byard is on the Jim Thorpe list for the second straight year.

Barber led the team in tackles last season with 119, while Byard was second with 106. Barber’s totals included three sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries and three interceptions. Byard picked off five opponent’s passes, and returned two of them for touchdowns, one each against Southern Miss and FIU.

Barber also had an interception return for a score vs. Southern Miss.

Up front, the defensive line will be anchored by seniors Patrick McNeil and Shubert Bastien, redshirt sophomore Shaquille Huff, and true sophomore Steven Rhodes, who quickly worked his way into the starting lineup after coming to Middle Tennessee last season after a stint in the U.S. Marines.

The linebackers, in addition to Barber, will be junior James Roberson on the strong side, with red-shirt senior Christian Henry in the middle.
Joining Byard in the defensive backfield will be senior Khari Burke and junior Jared Singletary on the corners and junior Xavier Walker at free safety.

Under the watchful eye of veteran Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix, the Blue Raider defense has improved each year as the season has gone on with 2013 being no exception.

Over the last five games of the 2013 regular season, the MT defense held their opponent under 300 yards twice, posted their first shutout since 2006 and gave up just 328.8 yards per game. The defense ended last season ranked 63rd nationally in total defense.

Featuring a strong ground attack as well, the Blue Raiders posted some impressive numbers in that category. The rushing attack wound up third in Conference USA and 31st nationally with an average of 199.3 yards per game last season. In league play, the numbers were even more impressive.

Led by sophomore Jordan Parker’s four games of 100+ yards, the Blue Raiders finished with five different runners accounting for a total of ten 100+ yard games. Reggie Whatley had three, with Jeremiah Bryson, Shane Tucker and quarterback Austin Grammer earning one each.

In a goal line offense, featuring a full-house backfield, the Raiders will be able to fill all four slots with 100-yard rushers. Or throw in fullback Chase Pennycuff, a 259-pound blast blocker.

Perhaps the biggest key to a successful running game is, of course, the offensive line, and the Blue Raiders will have some new faces up front on Saturday night. This is the area where graduation took its toll, with last year’s starting center and both guards having to be replaced.

“This is one of the main areas where we will be young,” noted Stockstill. “We will have three sophomores starting at guard and center. They all have size and athleticism, but what they don’t have much of is experience.”

Veteran tackles Darius Johnson, a junior, and senior Isaiah Anderson will flank sophomore Daniel Stephens at center, and red-shirt sophomores Adam Stickel and Josh Chester at guard.

Seniors Devin Clarke and Marcus Henry will lead the wide receiving corps, but look for versatile Ed’Marques Batties, big Terry Pettis, Demetrius Frazier and Chris Perkins to make an impact.

The placekicking will once again be handled by sophomore Cody Clark, who will also kick off. Junior Zachary Lopez will take over for punter Josh Davis, who was a magician in placing long punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Batties will handle both kickoff and punt returns in addition to being a starting wide receiver. The long snapper will be Blaine Sidders, with Austin Grammer holding on field goals and PATs.

“We have practiced, lifted weights, run sprints, attended meetings, gone to class, and now we are ready to play football on Saturday night,” noted Stockstill.

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Stockstill talks about playing Savannah State in opener

Stockstill talks about playing Savannah State in opener

Posted on 25 August 2014 by Allen

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MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill met with the media today in Murfreesboro to talk about the Raiders opener on Saturday.

Opening Statement:
Savannah State you know is coming off a not so hot of a record last year. They return six starters on offense, and eight on defense. It’s Coach Wilson’s second year so we’re expecting a much improved Savannah State team over last year. You guys know, first games, you never know what you’re going to see, what changes schematically teams do in the offseason. Savannah State is a spread offense. Their skill players are very talented. They look fast on film, so they’ve got some good skill players. They lost three of their guys up front on the offensive line. They got their quarterback back, whose a bigger guy that can run and throw. So we’re expecting a much improved Savannah State team. Defensively, they’re a multiple team, they were some 3-4 last year and some 4-3. Again, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to see in the first game so we’re preparing for the 3-4 and also preparing for the 4-3. They’ve got eight starters returning on defense, their secondary, their skill guys are very athletic, and they run very well. They’ve got two outside linebackers/defensive ends from the research we’ve done who are going to be two of the better players in the MEAC. They’ve got good players on that side of the ball. I know they’re hungry to try to redeem themselves from last year. But they’re going to get a hungry team from us. I like our attitude. I think we have got a good edge and a chip on our shoulder. We have something to prove. I told our team yesterday, you know it’s not about Savannah State. It’s about us and playing up to the standard of our performance that we want to play at and the level of excellence that we want to play at. We’ll prepare this week to play our best game. This is the most important game on our schedule. You don’t get very many opportunities and this is the first one. So were hungry and we’re excited to get out there and play this game.

On the season opener:
We’re different than high schools. We’re different than the NFL. High schools get a couple scrimmages in their camp and the NFL gets four preseason games. We’ve been beating on the same body, the same guy for three weeks now. We’re ready to see somebody else. The grind of camp, this is the exciting part of it when you hear the band playing and students coming back on campus. So this is an exciting time for our players and coaches.

On the making an impact in the first game:
We want to play to our standard of excellence. I understand there is going to be mistakes in the first game, but you want them to be minimal. I hope we tackle well. I hope we play smart and protect the ball. The little things like that, sound in the kicking game, you can lose more games especially in the first game of the year by mistakes in the kicking game. I know we’ll play hard, I know our effort will be great. I have no doubt about that. Tackling well and protecting the football is a great start to the first game.

On playing Savannah State:
I think probably the biggest thing is we have to make sure we don’t look at Savannah State’s record last year and that we can just show up. Savannah State is a much improved team, so to me, we’ve got to make sure we put our hats on and come out with a W. We’ll grind this week, we’ll coach them hard. That’s what I keep saying, it’s about us. Next week we’ll play Minnesota. We can’t control how good or how well Minnesota is going to play. All we can control is us and that is the bottom line. Our main focus this week is to get better and continue to improve and then go out there Saturday against Savannah State and play how we’ve been coached.

On the first game:
All of our new guys, our young guys or first year guys that’ll be playing is to play how you practice. The whole team, but especially those new guys ought to be confident. They have done it on the practice field through spring practice, most of those guys went through spring practice as well as this camp here in August. I don’t think they’ll be a deer in the head light, I’m sure they’ll be a little jittery, a little excited. I hope they are because I know I will. But just to go out and play like you’ve been coached, play fast and play with confidence.

On the opening of the season:
I know were excited to play. We’re excited to hit somebody we don’t know that doesn’t sit next to us in our locker room. We’re excited about that. But the big thing is this team hasn’t done anything yet. This team hasn’t won one game and this team hasn’t lost any games. So we talk about all the time what’s our identity going to be, what’s this team going to be about. So hopefully we forged that over the summer in August camp. I have a pretty good idea what our identity we’ll be. We’ll get out there Saturday night and got to prove and show it. If you worry about yourself and play the best you can individually and collectively and do your assignment with phenomenal, relentless effort then you don’t have to worry about the opponent. You play your game and do your thing and usually if you play at a high level and dominate your opponent individually, then you’ll have team success collectively.

On if he will use multiple quarterbacks:
I want to win. I’m not interested in making sure so and so gets so many snaps. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win this game, that’s the bottom line. If were fortunate enough to play some other guys at other positions we’ll do that. Bottom line is were going out there focused to win this game.

On the emphasis for the starting quarterback:
Protect the ball and manage the offense. Be a great communicator and getting plays communicated to the offensive line and receivers. But the bottom line is just to protect the ball, you don’t have to do anything out of character. We have a lot of good players around you, just run and manage the offense.

On if it’s hard to scout Savannah State:
I have been in the MEAC. I started coaching at Bethune-Cookman, that was my first job. The bigger schools, they have 10-15 SIDs and they have got different websites and all kinds of people covering and writing articles after every practice. At Savannah State, they don’t have the luxury of having 10 or 12 SIDs, websites to promote so it’s been a little bit different from that standpoint but you read the papers and try to gather as much information as you can. If we were opening up with Clemson you could get all the information you needed.

On what he told the quarterbacks:
I haven’t told those guys anything different than I told Logan. I told Logan when he first got here and I told Logan last year before the last game as a constant reminder to protect the ball. We didn’t give Logan anymore freedom then we’ll give our quarterbacks this year. The number one job for a quarterback is to protect the ball, move the offense and to get first downs and first downs ultimately turn into touchdowns. That’s the most important thing that the quarterback can do. I don’t care if it’s in the NFL, high school or college. If you can’t protect the ball you’re going to have a hard time winning games.

On evaluating the quarterbacks:
I went in with some objectives that I really evaluated them on was performance. One was turnovers, one was negative plays, and one was their leadership and the other in the scrimmages. When you were in there did you score? Those were the main things. I kept statistics after every practice on completion percentage, drops that they had, carrying out their fakes, the little things. They were under a microscope for three weeks.

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MTSU holds final scrimmage

MTSU holds final scrimmage

Posted on 16 August 2014 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee football conducted its final dress rehearsal of fall camp on Saturday with a 117-play scrimmage inside Floyd Stadium.

The Blue Raider offense got on a roll early, scoring on the first four drives of the scripted scrimmage. MT scored 11 times, while the defense forced nine stops.

“I saw a lot of good things from both sides of the ball today, but I really cannot give a good evaluation until I see the film,” said Stockstill. “I really like how hard we played. The disappointing thing was all the penalties on offense, the missed field goal and the fumble down near the goal line. It’s hard to win games with that many mistakes. I was proud of their effort and how tough they played tonight. That is our identity and culture at Middle Tennessee. We are going to play tough and physical every snap.”

Quarterback Austin Grammer completed his first 11 passes and finished the evening 11-of-12 for 151 yards. The redshirt sophomore from Tuscaloosa, Alabama ran seven times for 20 yards and a touchdown. Brent Stockstill threw nine completions out of 16 attempts for 92 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, AJ Erdely went 6-of-8 for 46 yards in the contest.

“I felt more comfortable tonight than the previous scrimmage and a lot of that had to do with the protection,” Grammer said. “The guys up front played great.”

“When one gets separation from the others then we will announce a pecking order,” added Stockstill. “Right now, we have great competition between three really good quarterbacks. I thought all three made some nice throws, ran well and protected the football. I don’t think we took a sack when the quarterback was live tonight and that is a positive.”

The Blue Raider offense used a battery of tailbacks with Shane Tucker leading the way with 73 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. J’Vonte Herrod compiled 53 yards and a touchdown on 10 rushes, while Smyrna native Jeremiah Bryson added 47 yards and a TD run.

“One of the things we take pride in is our toughness,” Tucker said. “We’re all not very big guys, but all of us run hard. Coach Stockstill preaches toughness all the time and we try not to let the first guy tackle us. After every hit we want two extra yards.”

There were 16 different Blue Raiders that caught passes on Saturday. Ed’Marques Batties led the way with five receptions for 68 yards. Devin Clarke snagged four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown.

The longest touchdown pass of the evening came on the fourth drive when Stockstill found Jevontey Smith for a 30-yard touchdown.

Defensively, the Raiders recorded eight sacks, seven tackles-for-loss, an interception, and a forced fumble. Steven Rhodes led the way with two sacks, while Cavellis Luckett anchored a sack and a TFL.

Kicker Cody Clark nailed two of three field goal attempts, hitting from 31 and 25 yards out.

Middle Tennessee has one more week left of fall camp before entering game week. The Blue Raiders open the season at Floyd Stadium against Savannah State on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m.

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Raiders hold kicking scrimmage

Raiders hold kicking scrimmage

Posted on 13 August 2014 by Allen

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The Blue Raiders conducted a 12-period kicking scrimmage this morning for practice 11 inside Floyd Stadium. The team started with field goals, then punting before moving to punt block. The scrimmage concluded with work on kickoff return and kickoff coverage.

The final nine periods of practice consisted of team work, the inside drill and more on the two-minute offense. The Blue Raiders will return to the field after dinner on Wednesday for another 15-period practice in shorts.

STOCKSTILL LIVE: The Rick Stockstill Radio Show will get underway on August 25 beginning at 7 PM. The show will take place at Sam’s Sports Grill in Murfreesboro.

GRADUATES: Middle Tennessee will have 10 student-athletes playing the 2014 season with a degree in hand. The student-athletes are Isaiah Anderson, Darrell Baptist, Leighton Gasque, Christian Henry, Patrick Hughes, John Kelly, Pat McNeil, Chris Sharpe, Max Ugboaja, and Reggie Whatley.

Following are comments about today’s kicking scrimmage, along with some quotes on the offensive line:

HEAD COACH RICK STOCKSTILL
On three different guys kicking during the season
“That’s a strong possibility now with (Canon) Rooker being out for the year. It looks like Cody (Clark) will be our field goal kicker. Zach Lopez and AJ Wells will be competing for the punter job, and then AJ and Cody are battling for kickoffs. AJ is leading in the kickoff competition and Zach is ahead in the punting. If it stays that way, then it very well could be three different guys.”

On the Punting team
“We didn’t do a very good job protection-wise. I think that was the biggest issue today. It was the first time we really went live so we have to improve in that area. I’ve been pleased with how the guys punted. Today wasn’t one of their better days, but for the most part of camp, I think both Zach and AJ have punted better than what they did in the spring.”

Punt Return Team
“The number one responsibility for the returner is to get the ball to the offense. If you’re fortunate enough to have a guy with some wiggle and some shake, yeah, you would love to have that dimension. We have never had that guy at punt returner. We finished second in the conference last year in punt return yards so we did a nice job, but his number one job is not to lose yards and let the ball roll or lose 10 or 20 yards on a punt.”

On the value of Reggie Whatley at Kick Returner
“He has put us in a position to win a bunch of games the past couple years just with his kickoff returns. I know the one at WKU was huge. He had another long return against Memphis last year that helped set up the field for us, and he had a long return at FAU at the end of the game that almost didn’t go to overtime. He is a huge weapon for us back there.”

Offensive Line Coach Geep Wade
On the experience of the three middle offensive line guys (Daniel Stephens, Josh Chester, Adam Stickel)
“These guys haven’t played a lot of snaps, but they’ve been on the field. (Josh) Chester started the first three games and played well vs FAU. He broke his foot in the fourth game and just couldn’t play toward the end of the year as we got on roll. (Daniel) Stephens played well in the FAU game and started against ECU. They just didn’t play a bunch of snaps but they saw some quality time. They are young but I don’t see them as new guys. Stickell has come along over the course of fall camp, and was the most improved player in the spring on offense. What I’m excited about in him is his low pad level. We still have a long way to go, but these guys care and I’m excited about the direction we’re heading.”

On Guard David Adams
“He’s really athletic, 280 pounds and can do a backflip. A great kid, works hard, and goes home and drives a truck. Those are the guys that love football, have great character and play with toughness. We can win with that”

On expectations of line
“We don’t talk about being the top running team from last season. We talk about football being a lifestyle, being an offensive lineman is a lifestyle. These guys have to live it 24/7. If they don’t, they don’t love the game. We’re just trying to instill pad level, striking with the hands and playing low. We’re not going to do a lot of different things up front. Great teams get better between now and the last practice, hopefully, before a bowl game. Our motto is to come to work every day and for it to be a lifestyle 24/7.”

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MTSU lands 5 on All-Conference USA Team

MTSU lands 5 on All-Conference USA Team

Posted on 13 June 2014 by Allen

Head coach Rick Stockstill

Athlon Sports released its All-Conference USA Team and five Middle Tennessee players were honored. The Blue Raiders had two on offense, two on defense and one for special teams.

First team players recognized were linebacker T.T. Barber and safety Kevin Byard. Barber and Byard were the top tacklers on the team in 2013 with Barber also being voted the team MVP in the Armed Forces Bowl. Byard is the NCAA’s active leader in interception return yards with 326.

Jordan Parker and Darius Johnson were the second team members. Parker led MT in rushing last year with 745 yards and six touchdowns despite seeing limited time late in the year with a hip injury, while Johnson has started 25 straight games for the Blue Raiders.

Kick returner and running back Reggie Whatley was a third team pick as a specialist. Whatley, one of the top returners in the nation the last two years, has proven to be a game changer his entire career as a returner and running back.

The Blue Raiders open the 2014 season on Aug. 30 at home against Savannah State.

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C-USA and MTSU announce four national broadcasts for 2014

C-USA and MTSU announce four national broadcasts for 2014

Posted on 29 May 2014 by Allen

Head coach Rick Stockstill

As announced by Conference USA today, four Middle Tennessee football games in 2014 have been selected for national television as part of the league package.

The current confirmed schedule features more than 50 games to air nationally or regionally, with additional games to be added prior to the beginning of the season. National games will be televised on FOX Sports 1, Fox Sports Net (FSN), CBS Sports Network, ESPN and NBC.

The Blue Raiders will have national broadcasts on the road against Old Dominion and Marshall and home contests versus UAB and BYU.

The Blue Raiders and Monarchs will face off on Friday, September 26 in Norfolk on FS1 beginning at 7 PM Central. This will mark the first meeting between the two schools.

On October 11, Middle Tennessee will travel to Marshall to take on the Thundering Herd in a game that will be broadcast on FS1 or FSN. The final determination on which station the game will air may not be announced until 12 days out. Last year on national television, the Blue Raiders won a thrilling, 51-49, contest against Marshall with a touchdown pass on the game’s final play.

The following week will see the Blue Raiders host UAB on Oct. 18 for Homecoming. The game will kick-off at 2:30 PM Central and be televised on Fox College Sports.

After an open date, the Blue Raiders will host BYU at Floyd Stadium on Nov. 1 at 2:30 PM. The game will be shown nationally on the CBS Sports Network.

Conference USA will announce their syndicated package at a later date which is expected to include more Blue Raider games.

The 2014 football season marks the fourth year of a multi-platform media rights agreement between Conference USA and FOX Sports to broadcast a minimum of 20 games. FOX Sports 1, FOX’s new national sports cable network, is scheduled to televise a minimum of 10 regular-season Conference USA football games. Additional games will again be carried nationally on FOX Sports Networks owned-and-affiliated regional networks, which reach more than 85 million homes and FOX College Sports.

This season marks the 10th year of C-USA’s partnership with CBS Sports Network that includes significant national and regional exposure for football, men’s and women’s basketball and other C-USA sports. CBS Sports Network is the 24-hour home of CBS Sports and is available to more than 99 million households across the country.

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Seahawks draft MTSU’s Staten in 5th round

Seahawks draft MTSU’s Staten in 5th round

Posted on 11 May 2014 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee defensive tackle Jimmy Staten became the first Blue Raider to be drafted since 2011 on Saturday, as he was selected 172nd overall in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks.

Three other Blue Raiders inked rookie free agent contracts on Saturday. QB Logan Kilgore signed with the New Orleans Saints. Offensive lineman Josh Walker joined the Indianapolis Colts and corner Sammy Seamster reached an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens.

Staten learned of the Seahawks’ decision in the midst of his graduation ceremony on Saturday afternoon. He received the call while awaiting to receive his degree in Liberal Studies.

The Waycross, Georgia native was tabbed All-Conference USA Honorable Mention in 2013. He was also invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. As a senior, Staten was voted a permanent team captain. He played in 12 games, starting in 11. He completed his senior year finishing with 30 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, a pass breakup and two hurries. Staten only missed the season opener against Western Carolina due to injury. He posted 36 tackles in 12 games as a junior. He finished his career with 49 career games played.

Staten is the 31st draft pick in school history, becoming the first since Rod Issac was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fifth round (147th overall) in 2011. He is the first Raider to be picked by Seattle since Tony Burse was a 12th round pick in 1987. Cornerback Marcus Udell was the last Raider to participate in a Seattle camp, participating there in 2010.

Kilgore, a native of Rocklin, California, finished his illustrious career as the Blue Raider leader in touchdown passes (53), 200-yard passing games (21) and passing attempts (1,135). He ranked second with 692 completions and 7,849 yards. Kilgore started all 13 games in 2013, completing 216 of 355 passes for 2,507 yards.

The cornerback Seamster saw action in all 13 games last year, recording a career-best 33 tackles. The Ooltewah native had an interception, a pass breakup, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries during his senior campaign.

Spring City native Walker was tabbed a second team All-Conference USA honoree in 2013. The offensive lineman ended his career with 25 consecutive starts and played a season-high 107 snaps in the MT’s thrilling victory over Marshall.

The four Blue Raiders will report to their team’s respective NFL team’s rookie camps later this month.

2014 Blue Raider Signings:

5th Round:

DT Jimmy Staten – Seattle Seahawks

Free Agent Contract:

QB Logan Kilgore – New Orleans Saints
CB Sammy Seamster – Baltimore Ravens
OL Josh Walker – Indianapolis Colts

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Defense prevails in annual Blue-White Spring Game

Defense prevails in annual Blue-White Spring Game

Posted on 19 April 2014 by Allen

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Shon Akins came up with two interceptions, leading a parade of four turnovers forced by the Blue Raider defense at the annual Blue-White Spring Game, as the White team (defense) won 44-27 in the game held this year at Dean A. Hayes Stadium.

Akins and Chris Sharpe tallied first-half interceptions to give the defense a commanding lead they would not surrender, holding a Blue Raider offense in check that used a rotation of quarterbacks throughout the afternoon. Alex Dale would come up with the ball on a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter for the third turnover forced by the Blue Raider defense, while Akins tallied his second pick on the final play of the game. Jahmal Jones had a team-high six tackles for the White team.

Austin Grammer led the Blue squad with 125 yards in the air and one touchdown on an efficient 8-of-11 passing. Tony Rowland ran for 114 yards on 23 carries, both team-highs, while Terry Pettis had a team-best 74 yards receiving along with a touchdown reception.

Cody Clark scored the first points for the Blue team via a field goal before Akins picked off a ball to give White an 11-3 lead late in the first quarter. Austin Grammer would hit Terry Pettis for a 49-yard touchdown to cut it to 18-10 before Sharpe’s interception made it 22-10 White heading into halftime.

White led 29-10 to begin the second half before Jordan Willis chipped into the deficit, making a quick move to his right to elude a defender, getting into the end zone to make it 29-17. Canon Rooker would add a field goal to cut it 29-20 through three quarters.

Leading 36-20 at the beginning of the third quarter, White would add to the lead with Dale’s fumble recovery. Chukwadi Echetebu would run it in from eight yards out with 22 seconds to go to bring it within 40-27 before Akins picked off a hail mary on the final play of the game.

The White team is now 7-2 all-time in the spring game under Stockstill.

Saturday’s festivities marked the end of the 2014 spring season. The Blue Raiders will open summer camp on August 3 in preparation for the season opener at home on August 30.

2014 Spring Practice Awards

Terry Whiteside Award (Excellence in academics, football, strength training, community service, and campus activities): Reggie Whatley
Dr. Sidney A. McPhee Senior Academic Award: Leighton Gasque
Dr. James E. Walker Junior Academic Award: Jordan Frost-Dixon
Dr. Don Craig Sophomore Academic Award: Josh Chester
Jeanne Massaquoi Freshman Academic Award: Lucas Hamilton
Most Improved Quarterback: Nolan Genovese
Most Improved Running Back: Kamani Thomas
Most Improved Wide Receiver: Demetrius Frazier
Most Improved Offensive Line: Adam Stickel
Most Improved Defensive Line: Shaquille Huff
Most Improved Linebacker: Anfornee Stewart
Most Improved Safety: Chris Brown
Most Improved Corner: Mike Minter
Most Improved Strength Training Quarterback: A.J. Erdely
Most Improved Strength Training Running Back: Kamani Thomas
Most Improved Strength Training Wide Receiver: Shannon Smith
Most Improved Strength Training Offensive Line: Josh Chester
Most Improved Strength Training Defensive Line: Jimal McBride
Most Improved Strength Training Linebacker: James Roberson
Most Improved Strength Training Safety: Xavier Walker
Most Improved Strength Training Corner: Jared Singletary
Most Improved Strength Training Specialist: Canon Rooker

QUOTES:

Head Coach Rick Stockstill:

Opening Comments:
Both offensively and defensively, I thought we made improvement, individually and collectively as a team. I was pleased with it.

We got out of here today healthy, which was really the main objective today to be honest. I was pleased with how spring went.

On specific goals for the spring game and spring season:
Probably the two biggest areas we spent the most time on and I felt we needed to improve on were red zone offense and third down defense. So we worked on a lot of situations like that during the spring and I thought we got better on both sides of the ball.

On the three quarterback situation and who the starter will be:
I was really pleased with all three of them. I think we can win with all three of them. They all got better throughout the spring. We’ll just go through the summer and then in August, I’ll make a decision before the Savannah State game.

On the defensive performance:
I thought we did some good things defensively. I thought today, offensively we did some good things. We’re more experienced on the defensive side of the ball right now. I think we’re really fast on defense and I thought our speed and athleticism showed up today.

Defensive End Alexandro Antoine:

On having a good pass rush:
It’s just things I’ve been working on this spring, making sure I get my hips turned around. I’ve been working on my hands and stuff like that.

On the difficulty of getting sacs on this offense with running QBs:
Yeah, all three of them can run and at the same time they get it off quick. Even during the regular season other teams don’t get too many sacks against because they get the ball off so quick.

On treating this game like a real game:
The things Coach (Tyrone) Nix instilled in us, nothing is just a practice game. Every time we come out here it’s serious. We’re fighting.

On rubbing it in that the defense won today:
No, we’re not rubbing it in. We just love each other and as a defense we’re bonding. We’re not rubbing it in anyone’s face.

Quarterback Austin Grammer

On today’s spring game…
I thought we did some things well offensively, and we did some things not-so-well. We had a couple fumbles. I think we need to protect the ball better but for the most part I think we did a good job. We moved around a lot of guys around today so it was good to see those guys learning and picking up some new things so overall it went really well.

On the quarterback competition…
I still think it’s neck and neck with those other two guys. They’re great quarterbacks and we’ll have a tough battle all the way through the summer and fall camp competing just like we have been all spring.

On waiting till the season opener to find out who will start…
I guess we’ll have to wait. I think we’ll be anxious because we’ll all want to know, but I also think we’ll have a good feel by that time who the guy will be. But we’ll find out soon enough.

On throwing a touchdown pass today…
I think that will help with confidence but I think there are a lot of things that people don’t see that will determine who will be the starter. Things like making the right reads, making the right checks at the line, those things will really impress the coaching staff.

Wide Receiver Terry Pettis

On touchdown…
When he first through it I saw the corner drop down and safety roll over so I knew it was going to be open. I just had to make the catch and Austin threw a good ball.

On taking over at the receiver position…
Just a little bit but not enough. I’ve been able to grow some confidence with guys like Collis not in there playing right now. But it’ll be tough once those guys get back healthy. I did O.K. today but I could always do better.

On the defense today…
They played really well today. They had a couple interceptions and did a lot of good things. It’s a little bitter sweet in a game like this because when they play well that means you’re not playing well as an offense. But when that carries over to the fall we’ll be really excited because that means we’ll get a lot more opportunities as an offense to go win games.

Cornerback Chris Sharpe

On today’s performance…
I feel good about our defense. Coach Nix emphasized taking advantage of opportunities and we did that today. We got a lot of turnovers and played well. But we have to keep it up as we go through the summer and into fall camp.

On getting better forcing turnovers throughout the spring…
From the first scrimmage to know I believe we’re more aggressive in tackling and also attacking the ball in the air. Coach Nix emphasizes that a lot. So that’s made a big difference.

On turnovers…
We’re not going to rub it in anyone’s face, we just want to keep improving and keep getting better so we can prove we’re one of the best defenses in the nation this fall.

On the defensive line…
They played really well today and I feel like that’s why we were able to get so many turnovers. When you can get that much pressure on the quarterback it forces him to make throws he doesn’t want to make, so that means we can get to more balls as defense backs.

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MTSU Football season tickets on sale now

MTSU Football season tickets on sale now

Posted on 20 March 2014 by Allen

Head coach Rick Stockstill

Coming off back-to-back eight-win seasons and a bowl appearance, Middle Tennessee football is set for its 100th season when the 2014 schedule kicks off in August. The Blue Raiders return 49 lettermen and 13 starters, including all-star candidates Kevin Byard and T.T. Barber, and their top four running backs. Season tickets for another exciting home schedule are currently on sale.

The Blue Raiders will host Savannah State, Western Kentucky, Southern Miss, UAB, BYU, and Florida Atlantic at Floyd Stadium.

Season tickets can be ordered on-line at GoBlueRaiders.com or by calling the ticket office at 1-888-YES-MTSU or 615-898-5261.

Pricing for the 2014 season includes:
$115 for Sideline Reserved
$150 for Chair backs (requires BRAA donation)
$365 for Jeff Hendrix Stadium Club (requires BRAA donation)
$85 for General Admission
$95 for Sideline Reserved Group (+20)
$75 for General Admission Group (+20)

Being a season ticket holder will provide the customer a significant discount on sideline reserved seats, postseason bowl game priority, and the ability to renew your seats every year. If you are a BRAA member you will also gain priority points for purchasing season tickets. There are also payment plans available including a six month option.

Invoices for 2014 football season tickets were mailed earlier this week and past season ticket holders can expect to receive them any day.

For more information or to purchase tickets contact the Blue Raider Ticket Office today. The ticket office is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM until 5:30 PM.

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Scores

Temple 37 Vanderbilt 7 F
Alabama 33 West Virginia 23 F
Arkansas 21 Auburn 45 F
LSU 28 Wisconsin 24

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