Today’s Spring Finale went on despite a steady downpour as fans were allowed to observe from the outdoor boxes and the stadium club level.
The Blue Raiders had 15 practices over four weeks this spring, and almost all of them were successful, according to Stockstill.
“There was only one practice I was really disappointed in,” the 13th-year head man said. “I thought our effort and intensity were really good … and we’ve gotten great leadership offensively and defensively. I think we got better this spring, so I’ve been really pleased with it.
“The big thing has been their attitude has been really special. They’ve come out with a good workmanlike mentality. It was a really productive spring for us.”
While Stockstill was happy with what he saw on the field this spring, there were some notable players missing.
Injuries and offseason surgeries forced several players – namely, Walter Brady, Jovante Moffatt and Robert Behanan – out of action for a portion or all of the spring. Most are expected to return by the time camp rolls around in early August, but redshirt sophomore Ty Nix was likely lost for the entirety of the season with an injury that required surgery in the third week of practice.
“We had a couple of surgeries, but I think most of those guys are going to be ready to go by mid-summer, knock on wood,” Stockstill said. “For the most part, I think we’re pretty healthy.
“I hate that for Ty, because he was having a great spring and was going to be a really good player for us this year.”
While no team wants injuries, they did allow some younger guys to get plenty of reps. Stockstill is hoping that will pay dividends as the season gets underway.
“We had a bunch of injuries, so that gave some young guys a lot of reps,” he said. “Hopefully all of those guys will get back, and the reps that those young guys got because of the injuries I think will be beneficial for us once we get cranked up in August.”
Players moving around
Some of Middle Tennessee’s injuries afforded the chance for a few players to switch positions to add depth at key spots.
The most shuffling occurred on the Blue Raider offensive line, where Coach Stockstill and offensive line coach Rick Mallory are searching for the right pieces in the spots. The head coach said he was most impressed with the work Carlos Johnson put in, and the redshirt senior was named Most Improved Offensive Lineman for his efforts.
Perhaps no move was as drastic as senior Desmond Anderson‘s. The former running back and receiver will now line up on the defensive side of the ball as a cornerback to go along with kickoff receiving duties.
“Schematically, we tried some things offensively and defensively, and some of it we liked and some of it we didn’t like. That’s kind of what spring practice is for,” Coach Stockstill said. “We have some new guys in some new positions, and we really like what some of them give us from a depth standpoint.”
Younger Stockstill has nice spring
The storyline of Middle Tennessee’s 2017 spring drills was the absence of quarterback Brent Stockstill, who required offseason surgery and didn’t take part in practice.
This year, the story with the younger Stockstill was how good he looked throwing the ball.
The redshirt senior was fully healthy for the whole spring, and his father and coach was pleased with what he saw.
“Brent had a fantastic spring,” Coach Stockstill said. “His completion rate was high, and he only threw one interception and that was a bounce off Tavonn [Salter]’s chest. You go through the spring with as many routes as we throw in the course of the day, and to only have one interception and a high completion percentage, that’s good. He’s healthy and throwing the ball really good right now.”
Next step: Summer
Now that spring drills are in the books, Middle Tennessee’s focus will shift to summer conditioning, where new strength coach Matt Hickmann will get a chance to run the show.
While they won’t be meeting as a team to go through drills, Coach Stockstill said there’s still plenty for the Blue Raiders to work on before they return for camp.
“You can get a lot better over the summer, and I know our guys will work to get better,” he said. “Matt [Hickmann] will have a conditioning program for them, and we’ll make sure we’re in great shape when camp rolls around.”
Quarterback — Davis Whitt
Running back — Maurice Gordon
Wide receiver — Tavonn Salter
Offensive lineman — Carlos Johnson
Defensive lineman — Rakavian Poydras
Linebacker — DQ Thomas
Corner — OJ Johnson
Safety — Wesley Bush
Quarterback — Brent Stockstill
Running back — Terelle West
Wide receiver — Ruben Garnett
Offensive lineman — Chandler Brewer
Defensive lineman — Malik Manciel
Linebacker — Darius Harris
Corner — Darryl Randolph
Safety — Wesley Bush
Specialist — Crews Holt
Dr. Terry Whiteside Award