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M.T.S.U. Blue Raiders Preview

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on August 3, 2007

If there’s one thing Middle Tennessee residents know about, it’s growth in large numbers.

Something that the Middle Tennessee football program learned firsthand after sharing the Sun Belt conference championship and going to their first bowl game in Division I-A in 2006 behind the arm of three-year starter Clint Marks, who rewrote the record books at Middle Tennessee and anchored an offense that featured standout running back Eugene Gross, who earned all-Sun Belt honors for the Raiders last season.

Almost a year after facing Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl, the Blue Raiders are going to try to remain at the top of the Sun Belt with a brand-new quarterback in junior Joe Craddock, who saw action in eight games last season and seems to be the frontrunner to start on September 1st when the Blue Raiders head to Florida Atlantic to open the 2007 season. If Craddock fails to measure up during camp, it’s more than likely senior Patrick Jackson will get some playing time if not the starting job at QB.

The running game will be rested upon the shoulders of senior DeMarco McNair, who led the Blue Raiders in rushing with 586 yards and 139 carries for seven TDs as well as sophmore Philip Tanner, who is primed to be the running back of the future for the Blue Raiders once McNair exhausts his eligibilty.

At receiver, the trio of junior Bobby Williams, Johnathan Grigsby, and Taron Henry return to the ‘Boro in hopes of building on their modest success from 2006. Williams is the lone returning starter on the receiving corps and should be a threat in the Sun Belt this season. Their other options at receiver, tight ends Clint Corder and Stephen Chicola, have softer hands than the wideouts.

The Blue Raiders return six starters on defense, most notably free safety Damon Nickson who led the team with 61 tackles and cornerback Bradley Robinson, one of the best duos in the Sun Belt. Leadership should be expected from the two for a relatively young defense.

Final verdict: If the Blue Raiders want to avoid a setback, they’re going to have to find consistency on their offense. With an established running back in McNair and a strong secondary duo in Robinson and Nickson, the Blue Raiders will again contend for a Sun Belt crown.

Projected record: 7-5 (5-3)

2007 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Schedule

Sept. 1st @ Florida Atlantic

Sept. 6th @ Louisville

Sept. 15th @ LSU

Sept. 20th Western Kentucky

Sept. 29th Florida International

Oct. 6th Virginia

Oct. 13 @ Memphis

Oct. 20th Arkansas State

Oct. 27th @ North Texas

Nov. 3rd @ UL-Monroe

Nov. 10th UL-Lafayette

Nov. 20 @ Troy

Author’s Note: I’m in Jackson, Mississippi for the weekend. It’s hot as hell here, so I won’t be doing too much blogging from the road. Matt and the boys will hold it down while I try again at finding a cute Southern Belle.

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