Blue Raiders don full pads
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MT Sports Report
After a couple practices each in shorts and shells, the Blue Raiders put on full pads for the first time on Friday to get a little physical. The team dodged storms for the second day but excitement was high as the players finally got to do some hitting.

"The intensity was definitely up today," said Leighton Gasque. "Isaiah Andersonand Darius Johnson made sure everyone played physical from the opening of practice. We have a long way to go but we are headed in the right direction."

The Blue Raiders continued with their fundamental work but also had a spirited team period, 7-on-7, inside drill, the always exciting board drill and ended with a two-minute period.

"I thought the offense had more intensity than the defense today," said Head Coach Rick Stockstill. "The offense competed well and did a nice job executing plays but it still looked like the fifth practice. The defense did not play or practice like a Middle Tennessee defense today and they are a little banged up but that's no excuse."

Position battles on both sides of the ball will ramp up now with full gear on display.

Offensively, the top battle is at quarterback where Austin Grammer, A.J. Erdely, and Brent Stockstill are all vying to be the starter on August 30 in the home opener. All three have enjoyed some great moments and some plays they would like to have back but the competition will hit another gear in the coming weeks.

The offensive line is led by starting tackles Isaiah Anderson and Darius Johnsonand the coaches are trying to see who will take over the interior. Daniel Stephens and Josh Chester will be hard to pass at center and right guard, respectively, while the left guard spot is wide open.

"As an offense we had a good day," said running back Shane Tucker. "We competed, the line blocked well and we had some nice calls. It was a fun practice."

Defensively, coordinator Tyrone Nix has three starters back up front but developing depth is critical. Patrick McNeil, Shaquille Huff, and Jimal McBrideare all proven in the middle but finding a solid fourth and fifth option is high on the list.
Nix has stated he wants three-deep at linebacker so the starters do not have to play so many snaps.
T.T. Barber, Christian Henry, and James Roberson are all having solid camps and bring a ton of experience. Newcomers Trey Waffordand Cavellis Luckett are also turning heads.

Kevin Byard anchors the secondary where lots of battles are taking place, especially at both corner spots. Khari Burke is one of the favorites at one spot and Jared Singletary, Jamarcus Howard and Shon Akins are fighting for the other.


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