LINE: MTSU (1-1, 2-5) by 4 over Idaho (0-1, 1-6)
TV: LIVE, on FOX Sports Northwest
SERIES RECORD: MTSU leads 1-0
Middle Tennessee State University is riding high, having won its last 2 games of the season. Quite a turnaround for a team that lost a close game at Alabama (34-39), then consecutive losses at Tennessee (3-26) and at Kentucky (22-44). They then inexplicably lost to 1-AA Southeast Missouri (14-24), and then came up short in their first conference game against Arkansas State (7-13).
But in the last 2 weeks the Raider's offense has awakened, with a hang-on victory over Vanderbilt of the SEC (21-20), and a sound thrashing of Lafayette this weekend to the tune of 48-35. If there was any question about what had happened to the Raiders scoring prowess and ability to win early in the season, it looks like its been answered the past 2 weeks.
Below is a quick glimpse at the players to look for this weekend, followed by links to additional information on the MTSU Blue Raiders.
Neil Brake / AP
|#9 Andrico Hines, starting quarterback, is a double threat running the ball and passing the ball.|
Projected starting lineup:
QB Andrico Hines, 6-2, 212, Jr
RB Dwone Hicks, 5-11, 224, Sr
WR(X) Tyrone Calico, 6-4, 220, Sr
WR(Y) David Youell, 5-11, 184, Sr
WR(H) Chris Henry, 5-8, 166, RS-Fr
WR(Z) Wardell Alsup, 5-9, 152, Jr
LT Brandon Westbrook, 6-6, 301, Jr
LG Jonathan Barry, 6-2, 342, Sr
C Glen Elarbee, 6-2, 273, Sr
RG Josh Willoughby, 6-4, 330, Jr
RT Julius Gant, 6-4, 305, So
At first, it was a bit of a shock that MTSU was off to an 0-5 start. Afterall, they are one of the most talented offensive teams in the conference. But on closer inspection, the slow start could have been predictable. For starters, this is easily the toughest non-conference schedule MTSU has ever had, and they learned first hand what alot of their conference mates deal with on a regular basis. They also are breaking in a new quarterback, JC transfer Andrico Hines. Hines has been more of a running QB than passing QB early on, but against ULL last weekend he erupted for 347 yards and his second passing touchdown on the season. He added 75 yards on the ground, and 3 rushing touchdowns. Obviously, he's developing into an impressive double threat.
Acclaimed running back Dwone Hicks has also been injured most of the season, and made a meaningful comeback this weekend with 56 yards rushing and 51 yards receiving. He also switched back to the #33 jersey he wore last season, having worn #4 early on this year.
The Raiders are strongest when they work from their 4 receiver set. Wideout Tyrone Calico is their top receiver, and their big play maker. Sophomore Wardell Alsup made his first start this weekend and hauled in 2 catches for 27 yards. David Youell is a steady threat. When they employ a TE, look for Quan Domineck (6-6, 243, So).
The offensive line has good size and is solid, led by All-Conference candidate Brandon Westbrook.
Dave Martin / AP
|#12 Will Martin, starting free safety, breaking up a pass.|
Projected starting lineup:
LE Samuel Smith, 6-4, 262, Sr
T Curtis Daniely, 6-5, 296, Sr
RE Jerry Vanderpool, 6-3, 288, So
LLB Sheldon Durham, 6-2, 232, Sr
MLB Randy Arnold, 6-2, 240, Sr
RLB Louis Kemp, 5-10, 217, Sr
LP Kareem Bland, 6-0, 190, Sr
RP Brandon Lynch, 6-0, 186, Jr
LC Tony Sutton, 5-11, 190, Jr
FS Wil Martin, 5-11, 204, Jr
RC Muhammad Rashada, 5-11, 174, Jr
The strength of the Blue Raider defense is their linebacking corp. This is an extremely athletic group with good size, but their strength is how quickly they get to the ball. Senior linebacker Kareem Bland made his first start of the season against Lafayette this weekend and led the team with 8 tackles. He also recorded a QB sack. In short, 3 of the top 4 tacklers this weekend were linebackers. MLB Randy Arnold leads the team in tackles
The defensive front has had its share of problems stopping the run this season, but they woke in a big way against Lafayette, limiting the Cajuns to just 20 net yards rushing on 36 attempts. Keep your eyes open also for DE #98 Demetrios Walker (6-3, 254, Jr) who is 9th on the team in tackles, has 5 tackles for loss and 2 quarterback sacks.
The backfield is an athletic bunch, but has been vulnerable at times to the deep ball this season, and ULL rattled off a couple big completions on the day. Cornerback Tony Sutton tied for the team lead in tackles against ULL, while the other cornerback Muhammad Rashada had an interception. But this is still a good group. They have 7 interceptions total on the season and 10 pass breakups. Offenses have to earn their way down the field against this group.
Middle Tennessee State University Official Athletic Site
CollegeFootballNews.com 2002 Preview
MTSU Delphi Message Board