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March 20, 2009
Spring notebook: Just getting started
Middle Tennessee went through its second spring football practice Friday, returning to the field after three days of rest following Monday's initial spring workout.
For the second consecutive practice, head coach Rick Stockstill walked away very pleased with the work ethic shown by his team.
"These guys come in with a great attitude every day and it shows in the way they approach practice," Stockstill said. "I liked their tempo today and their effort."
The NCAA mandates that teams must not practice in pads for the first two practices of spring ball, which means Saturday morning's workout will be the first time the Blue Raiders will don pads since concluding the 2008 regular season at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Even though Stockstill loves what he has seen in the first two practices, he also knows there is still a long road ahead and a lot of evaluating to come as the Raiders look to answer questions at several positions.
"You can't (evaluate positions) based on two practices," Stockstill said. "We'll use all 15 days and evaluate because there are a lot of guys that have never played before, especially the guys on offense that are learning a new offense. We'll keep coaching them every day and get them better, then see what we come out with at the end of spring. Then we'll know what we've got going into August, we'll know what we can and can't do and what we need to improve."
Rising junior quarterback Dwight Dasher enjoyed an outstanding practice Friday, as he impressed his head coach not only with his arm but with his decision making.
"I told Dwight after practice today that he had the best practice since he has been here," said Stockstill. "He was crisp, protected the ball, and just looked comfortable."
Class comes first
The Blue Raiders opened spring drills back on Monday. After three days off, they will have practiced for three straight days by the end of the day Sunday.
Stockstill said the long midweek break was necessitated by the players' class schedules, which makes fielding a full team during the week a very difficult task.
For example, offensive lineman Mark Fisher and wide receiver Patrick Honeycutt arrived late to Monday's practice because of class conflicts.
Honeycutt and center Mark Thompson would have to miss any Wednesday afternoon practices in their entirety due to class.
Stockstill said practicing on Tuesdays and Thursdays would be "almost impossible" because of the number of class conflicts.
Of MT's 15 scheduled spring practices, 11 of them fall on either a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.
Gearing up for contact
MT will don pads on Saturday for the first time this spring. While the practice won't include full contact tackling to the ground, there will certainly be an increased level of physical contact.
When the pads start to pop a bit is when Stockstill thinks leaders start to come forward.
"We will have the same type of practice but will add in the inside drill to work with the linemen and be a little more physical ... I think we'll get a better feel for who our leaders are when we put the pads on and start playing ball."
MT will have its first spring scrimmage next Saturday.