MTSU preview



Posted: August 30, 2010, 3:26 p.m. CT

By Travis Erickson

Middle Tennessee State finished the 2009 season with an overall record of 10-3 and a win over Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl. The Blue Raiders were 7-1 in the Sun Belt Conference, which earned them a second place finish, with their only loss coming against Troy.

The Blue Raiders are led by fifth-year head coach Rick Stockstill. Stockstill earned Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year in 2006 and was again honored last season as Co-Head Coach of the Year, sharing the award with Troy coach Larry Blakeny. Prior to his tenure at Middle Tennessee, Stockstill spent 24 years as an assistant coach at various schools throughout the southeast including Clemson, South Carolina, East Carolina, and Central Florida.

The Blue Raiders return 14 starters including four all-conference performers and 42 letter-winners. Although the Blue Raiders return arguably their best player, dynamic quarterback Dwight Dasher, he was suspended indefinitely last week for accepting a loan to pay off a gambling debt, which was in violation of the NCAA’s policy on amateurism, and will not play against Minnesota. Dasher, who was just the fourth player in NCAA history to pass for more than 2,500 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season, will be replaced under-center by junior college transfer Logan Kilgore.

The 6-foot-3 Kilgore arrived on campus in January as a mid-term signee and demonstrated his ability in Middle Tennessee’s spring game, completing 21 of 34 passes for 322 yards. Kilgore does have some experience leading a team on the collegiate level. As a freshman at Bakersfield College in California, he threw for 2,512 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2009 to lead Bakersfield to a 10-2 record.

Kilgore will take over a Blue Raiders’ spread attack that averaged 32 points and nearly 422 yards of total offense per game last season. Senior Garrett Andrews leads a group of physical, experienced wide receivers that will give Kilgore reliable targets on the outside. The 6-foot-3, 206-pound receiver finished tied for second on the team with 35 catches for 530 yards and four scores, averaging 15.1 yards per catch.

Expect Middle Tennessee to take pressure off Kilgore by running the ball, which they did successfully last season when they ranked 27th in the nation with 186 rushing yards per game. The Blue Raiders’ rushing attack will get a boost this season when senior running back Phillip Tanner returns from a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the 2009 campaign. The 6-foot, 210-pound Tanner should split carries with the explosive D.D. Kyles, who started last season, to give the Blue Raiders a formidable backfield.

On defense Middle Tennessee State is lead by first-year defensive coordinator and former Wisconsin assistant coach Randall McCray. McCray coached at Wisconsin for four seasons so he is familiar with Gopher offense and personnel. While it