Middle Tennessee Blue
2008 CFN Middle
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2008 MT Offense
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2006 CFN MT
The program hasn't been able to create that one big break to
become the star of the Sun Belt, and now the opportunity, at least
for the near future, appears to be gone.
Expected to be the league's best team when it joined the Sun Belt,
year after year there have been near-misses and disappointments. The
2006 team was the best in the league, but a late collapse against
Troy prevented a trip to the New Orleans Bowl. Last year the Blue
Raiders were 5-5 with two games to go and at least a share of the
Sun Belt title there for the taking, but a home loss to UL Lafayette
and a 45-7 blasting by Troy ended all of that.
Head coach: Rick Stockstill
3rd year: 12-13
Off. 11, Def. 22, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 16
Best MT Players
1. QB Dwight Dasher, Soph.
2. RB/KR Desmond Gee, Jr.
3. FS Jeremy Kellem, Soph.
4. QB Joe Craddock, Sr.
5. RB Phillip Tanner, Jr.
6. LB Danny Carmichael, Jr.
7. CB Alex Suber, Jr.
8. WR Patrick Honeycutt, Jr.
9. P David DeFatta, Jr.
10. TE Alvin Ingle, Soph.
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 Maryland
Sept. 13 at Kentucky
Sept. 20 at Arkansas State
Sept. 30 Florida Atlantic
Oct. 11 at FIU
Oct. 18 at Louisville
Oct. 25 at Miss State
Nov. 8 UL Monroe
Nov. 15 at Western Kentucky
Nov. 22 North Texas
Dec. 3 at UL Lafayette
2007 Record: 5-7
Sept. 1 at
Fla Atlantic L 27-14
Sept. 6 at
Louisville L 58-42
Sept. 15 at
LSU L 44-0
Virginia L 23-21
Memphis W 21-7
at North Texas
at UL Monroe
Troy L 45-7
After no one apparently
went to class a few years ago, the program's APR stunk and scholarships
were taken away. The last thing a short-handed team needed was a problem
with injuries, and Middle Tennessee got hammered by them with bumps and
bruises all across the board. Those can't happen this year.
The starting 22 should be fine, and there's a little bit of depth, but
there's little overall margin for error and there are major holes to
fill. The receiving corps is a big-time question mark, the offensive
line could be a disaster, and the ends need to come through to replace
top producers Erik Walden and Tavares Jones.
For the first time in a while the expectations are generally low. This
is a young team, very young, and it'll have to fight through some
inconsistencies and mistakes to become a factor in the Sun Belt. This
isn't a title contender, but that's okay. Maybe the team needs to be in
the underdog role to finally reach its potential.
What to watch for on offense: The line. With Franklin Dunbar
leaving early for the NFL and Mark Fisher and Jamal Lewis both hurt,
three key starters from last year are gone. Junior OT Mark Thompson is
fine, but he's not a superstar to revolve an entire line around. That's
what MT will have to do as three redshirt freshmen and an untested
sophomore will likely fill out the rest of the front five.
What to watch for on defense: A better linebacking corps. Last
year the line took care of everything and the linebackers were mostly
along for the ride. Now the veterans like Danny Carmichael and Lonnie
Clemons lead a promising group that should be able to do more. At the
very least they'll be in on more tackles.
The team will be far better if … the D can slow down the
run. There were several big plays allowed and things got worse and worse
as the year went on. After doing a phenomenal job of shutting down
Arkansas State in mid-October, the run defense went bye-bye in November
allowing 360 yards to UM, 376 to UL Lafayette and 263 to Troy allowing
12 touchdowns in the final four games. You can't win the Sun Belt
without being at least average against the run.
The non-conference schedule is sneaky-tough playing Maryland, at
Kentucky, at Louisville, at Mississippi State, and at Western Kentucky.
Even the battle with the Hilltoppers will be tough. If the Blue Raiders
can win two of those, Merry Christmas. October starts out with an
off-week, three games are on the road, and then ends with an off-week.
On the plus side, one of the Sun Belt road trips is at FIU and the
league's two best teams, Troy and Florida Atlantic, have to come to
Best Offensive Player:
Sophomore QB Dwight Dasher. While Dasher is in a dead-heat with Joe
Craddock for the starting job, he's the face of the program for the next
three years and the one guy who can carry the team from 5-7 good to a
potential Sun Belt champion. He didn't take the gig by the horns this
spring and now he has to show more this fall.
Best Defensive Player:
Sophomore FS Jeremy Kellem. LB Danny Carmichael might turn out to be
the team's leading tackler and CB Alex Suber will likely be the best
defensive player out of the gate, but Kellem is a fantastic all-around
playmaker who should grow into the main man the secondary will work
around. With his range he'll be all over the field.
Key player to a
successful season: Junior DT Brandon Perry. While not even
considered a starter going into the fall, the 327-pounder will be in the
rotation early on and will have to use his big body to start clogging
things up. The D was killed by teams that could effectively run inside,
and Perry has to be the one who puts an end to that. If the run defense
is better, the team has a shot at a big season.
The season will be a
... the Blue Raiders win five Sun Belt games. The non-conference
schedule could be a total wash, and there are too many holes to ask for
a Sun Belt title, but there's no reason the Blue Raiders can't come up
with a big game and split with Troy and Florida Atlantic at home and go
on to finish 5-2 in league play. That would be the bridge-the-gap season
to what should be a far better 2009.
Aug. 28 vs. Troy. This is the statement game for the Blue Raiders after
losing to the Trojans three of the last four years. With at Arkansas
State and a home game against Florida Atlantic to follow in Sun Belt
play, a loss could mean an ugly 0-3 conference start and an even worse
0-5 beginning before an off-week and three straight road games.
2007 Fun Stats:
Tennessee 2nd quarter scoring: 112 – Middle Tennessee 3rd
quarter scoring: 30
- Yards per carry: Opponents 4.9 – Middle Tennessee 3.5
- Red zone score: Opponents 45 of 49 (92%) – Middle Tennessee 24 of 32