Location: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Nickname: Blue Raiders
School Colors: Royal Blue & White
Stadium: Floyd (31,000)
Conference: Sun Belt
Head Coach: Andy McCollum
Record at MTSU: 30-38 (6 years)
2004 Record: (5-6, 4-4)
2004 Bowl: None
2005 Record: (3-5,
2005 Record: (3-5, 2-3)
Starters Returning: 18 (8 offense, 10 defense)
AP Ranking: NR
Middle Tennessee State Game Notes
ANOTHER BCS BATTLE
Since joining the I-A ranks in 1999, Middle Tennessee has played 76 games with No. 77 scheduled against NC State. During that span, the Blue Raiders have played 21 games against BCS opponents and the Wolfpack will be No. 22. That works out to 29 percent of all games played against teams from the top rated conference. In five years as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, the Blue Raiders have played 22 non-conference games and 14 have been against BCS conference schools.
GOING FOR 3 IN A ROW
Middle Tennessee will be going for its third straight road victory when it takes on NC State Saturday.
The last time a Blue Raider team won three consecutive games away from Floyd Stadium was 2001 when they defeated Vanderbilt, Louisiana- Monroe, and Louisiana-Lafayette. Middle Tennessee has not won four games in a row on the road since the undefeated 1985 season.
3 IN A ROW FOR MARKS
After going the first five games of the year without a 200-yard passing game, junior Clint Marks recorded his third in a row last week against Louisiana- Monroe. Marks completed 20-of-32 passes and had a touchdown en route to a season-high 272- yard outing. The Fort Myers, Fla., native now has 12 200-yard passing games for his career and is tied with Jonathan Quinn and Kelly Holcomb for second all-time. Wes Counts owns the 200-yard passing game record with 18.
GROSS HAS BIG GAME
Junior running back Eugene Gross, who is having a solid season for the Blue Raiders, is coming off a great all-around effort against ULM. Gross led the team with 86 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground while also catching four balls for 58 yards and a score. Gross' 37-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against ULM was the first of his career and marked the second longest reception for the Statesboro, Ga., native.
SAINTIL CLOSING IN
Senior Cleannord Saintil is having the best year of his brief Blue Raider career. Saintil enters the NC State game with 44 catches to lead the Blue Raiders and the Sun Belt Conference. The Naples, Fla., native needs three more receptions to jump into the top 10 in single-season receptions and alltime receptions. Saintil has 84 career grabs, the most by any two-year transfer at MT, and 44 on the season.
STEED STEPPING UP
Junior Ronald Steed, who started the year at safety, earned playing time as a running back for the second game in a row in last Saturday's loss to ULM. In two games, Steed has carried the ball 18 times for 110 yards and a touchdown. The Kennesaw, Ga., native is averaging a team-best 6.1 yards a carry.
RAYMOND HAS BIG GAME
Senior defensive back Keon Raymond, who is having the best year of his career, put together his best statistical game as a Blue Raider in last week's loss to ULM. Raymond collected a career-best eight tackles to go along with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pass breakup. On the season, Raymond has a career-best 30 tackles to go along with two interceptions, four pass breakups, and a team-leading two forced fumbles.
Head Football Coach Andy McCollum
Talk about all the high-profile BCS teams your team has played in the
recent years, and now you have N.C. State on the schedule.
"It's a credit to these kids and what they have done. I look at our senior class, the four-year guys, and when you look at their record you forget they have played 13 BCS teams during their careers. It makes it tough. It is part of the growing process but this is a now world and we understand that. We have a chance to go play another good program in N.C. State and go against a team that is in one of the best conferences (ACC) in the country."
What about this week's game at N.C. State?
"It's another opportunity. You talk about how close games are and last week was another example of that. With 42 seconds remaining we are driving with a chance and the field goal goes right over the pole. It was that close and that's what we are dealing with. The attitude of our kids is hurt but they are working hard. We have had some tough losses, some close losses, but we know we are still going to fight and play hard. That's the attitude of this team."
What is your impression of the N.C. State defense?
"Their defensive line is great. All four will be making a lot of money playing this game. They look as good as advertised. They really have speed all over the field. It's a very good looking football team all around and it's going to be a tough challenge.This is a team that beat Florida State two weeks ago so that tells you about all you need to know about their team. It's not one area, they are solid all-around."
What is your relationship with (former Middle Tennessee athletic director)
"I never met (current N.C. State athletic director) Lee Fowler until I made the visit to Middle Tennessee for the job interview. I think the world of him. I appreciate him giving me the opportunity to work for this great University. He was very committed to giving us what we needed in order to be successful. We still talk frequently."
When you were hired, did Lee Fowler talk to you about the fact it may take
awhile to win at Middle Tennessee?
"When he gave me the job he knew it wasn't going to be easy. We had success probably faster than people thought as things fell into place. He is a good man and he worked hard to give us what we needed to be successful, and when he left he was really working hard to make some things happen facility-wise."
DB Bradley Robinson
Your thoughts on this week's game against N.C. State?
"It's very exciting to play a team such as N.C. State. We expect great things of ourselves because we have been in these situations before. It's a challenge but one we look forward to seeing what we can do."
Growing up in South Carolina, is N.C. State a team you wanted to play
"I like N.C. State. I wanted to go there growing up. It's a great school and a great program. A lot of schools told me I was too small coming out of high school and they were one of those, so now I get to show them what I can do."
DE Devarick Scandrett
What are your thoughts of going on the road to play another BCS team, such as N.C. State?
"Whether you are playing Sun Belt teams or BCS teams at this point, it doesn't matter. As far as I'm concerned it's just another game. It's just a name because there are some Sun Belt players as good as BCS players. This is the next game for us and I don't think about it being BCS or whatever. It's a great chance against a quality team."
Last week was the first time the defense has struggled this season.
What was the mood of the unit coming back to practice?
"I knew at halftime last week when we started slow that it wasn't what we are used to doing defensively. Louisiana-Monroe is a good team and they did some things to us that presented some problems. There's no excuses, we just didn't get it done."
Middle Tennessee State Two-Deep Depth Chart
QB17 Clint Marks (6-2, 203, r-Jr.)
16 Josh Harris (6-3, 200, Sr.)
10 Patrick Jackson (6-2, 189, r-So.)
TB 20 Eugene Gross (5-9, 208, r-Jr.)
28 Ralph King (5-10, 185, r-Jr.)
FB 31 Nick McAfee (6-0, 248, r-Sr.)
38 Hunter Birtsch (5-11, 244, r-So.)
X 15 Cleannord Saintil (5-11, 197, Sr.)
4 Pierre Ingram (6-4, 212, r-Jr.)
Y 13 Taron Henry (6-0, 190, r-So.)
47 Walt Bell (5-10, 188, r-Jr.)
H 83 Jonathan Grigsby (5-9, 177, r-So.)
88 Michael Cannon (5-10, 176, Fr.)
Z 87 Bobby Williams (6-3, 183, Fr.)
89 Linnie Yarbrough (6-3, 190, Sr.)
TE 85 Stephen Chicola (6-5, 248, So.)
80 Clint Corder (6-3, 240, r-So.)
LT 60 Willie Hall (6-6, 310, r-Jr.)
50 Paul Cantrell (6-4, 313, r-Jr.)
LG 54 Franklin Dunbar (6-5, 354, r-Fr.)
79 Brandon Nix (6-4, 286, So.)
C 51 Kyle Ringley (6-2, 272, r-Sr.)
57 Marcus Gates (6-2, 281, r-Jr.)
RG 70 Richard Bortner (6-6, 334, r-Fr.)
61 Cade Becher (6-3, 300, r-Jr.)
RT 73 Germayle Franklin (6-4, 316, r-Jr.)
78 Derek Mason (6-4, 278, Jr.)
LE 94 Devarick Scandrett (6-4, 281, Sr.)
95 Jonathan Presley (6-4, 240, Fr.)
96 Bobby Payne (6-4, 286, r-Jr.)
NG 92 Jeff Littlejohn (6-2, 318, r-Sr.)
44 Brandon Perry (6-2, 310, Fr.)
T 91 Quinton Staton (6-2, 270, Sr.)
97 Trevor Jenkins (6-2, 270, Fr.)
RE 43 Erik Walden (6-2, 238, r-So.)
45 Sean Mosley (6-3, 265, r-So.)
SAM 19 Tavares Jones (6-3, 238, So.)
40 Dennis Burke (6-1, 242, Sr.)
MIKE 33 Jonathan Bonner (6-0, 222, r-Jr.)
11 Chance Dunleavy (6-2, 238, Jr.)
WILL 25 J.K. Sabb (5-11, 230, Jr.)
39 Marcus Brandon (5-11, 216, Jr.)
LC 24 Bradley Robinson (5-10, 170, r-So.)
6 Roy Polite (6-1, 188, So.)
LS 30 Jeremiah Weaver (5-11, 187, Sr.)
27 Reggie Doucet (6-0, 180, Jr.)
RS 8 Jonathan Harris (5-10, 207, Jr.)
5 Damon Nickson (6-0, 177, So.)
RC 2 Keon Raymond (5-11, 187, Sr.)
26 Jordan Wilson (5-10, 172, Fr.)
PK 46 Colby Smith (5-9, 181, r-Jr.)
49 Paul Wheeler (6-1, 222, r-Sr.)
P 46 Colby Smith (5-9, 181, r-Jr.)
13 Michael Hinson (5-10, 188, Fr.)
PR 24 Bradley Robinson (5-10, 170, r-So.)
DS 36 John Crawford (6-0, 240, Sr.)
KR 15 Cleannord Saintil (5-11, 197, Sr.)
13 Taron Henry (6-0, 190, r-So.)
KO 49 Paul Wheeler (6-1, 222, r-Sr.)
46 Colby Smith (5-9, 181, r-Jr.)
H 47 Walt Bell (5-10, 188, r-Jr.)
81 Luke Paschall (5-10, 177, r-Jr.)