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MTSU eager to face SEC foe


Danny P Smith



Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Stockstill likes what his team has accomplished. 


Although Stockstill was disappointed MTSU didn''t play better in a 31-7 loss at Troy on Oct. 6, he likes to brag about the Blue Raiders'' 3-2 record. 


MTSU has beaten Memphis (31-14), Maryland (32-31), and North Texas (37-21) and Stockstill doesn''t mind comparing scores. He understands that Maryland and Memphis don''t have eye-catching records (both are 2-4), but he points out Maryland defeated Clemson (24-21), while Memphis defeated Texas-El Paso (35-20), which handed Houston, which was ranked as high as No. 12 in the Associated Press Top 25, its only loss (58-41) of the season. Houston beat Mississippi State (31-24) last week. 


Those facts tell Stockstill the Blue Raiders can compete as long as they play a solid game. 


Stockstill doesn''t believe his team''s game at 11:30 a.m. Saturday (ESPNU) against MSU (2-3) will be a statement game for his program. 


"I don''t think one game determines who you are," Stockstill said. "Every game is important, and yes, this is important. We''re not looking to legitimize ourselves as a program. It''s an important game we''re going to play. We''ll do everything we can to try to win, but we''re not worried about all that other stuff." 


Stockstill is concerned about Anthony Dixon, the Bulldogs'' senior running back, and his defense''s ability to tackle him. 


Stockstill doesn''t want to beat up his team any more than he has to in practice to emphasize tackling this week, but he knows MTSU must do well in that area to stop Dixon. 


"We are going to continue to emphasize what we have been doing when it comes to preparing for the game," Stockstill said. "I think our defense has done a good job tackling in the first five games, but we aren''t going to do anything differently in practice." 


Quarterback Dwight Dasher leads the Blue Raiders in rushing with 304 yards on 90 attempts. He also is 110 of 199 for 1,273 yards. 


Even though MTSU struggled against Troy, Dasher still had 298 yards of offense. 


"Dwight (Dasher) got a lot of the blame (for the offense), which is natural at the quarterback position," Stockstill said. "There was no one on offense who played well last week. We have to get better, and I have no doubt we will correct the mistakes we made. 


"We may be asking some guys to do too much, so we may cut back on some things and make sure we aren''t overloading some guys."



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