Photo by Meagan White/MTSU Sidelines
After a week one beatdown against Alabama A&M, the Blue Raiders set their sights on Vanderbilt in week two. Coming into last week, people were unsure of how well the wide receiver core would look.
After losing Shane Tucker, Terry Pettis, and Jocquez Bruce, it was hard to believe in the pass-first offense of the Blue Raiders.
MTSU put everyone at ease Saturday night as quarterback Brent Stockstill and his receivers settled in early and unloaded in a very impressive outing to say the least.
With a receiver group of mostly underclassmen, Stockstill completed 30-36 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns. In the process, Stockstill threw 22 straight completions setting a new school record.
Backup quarterback John Urzua came in after halftime, connecting for 10-17 with 106 yards and one touchdown.
The most surprising stat of the night in the passing game was the Blue Raiders accounted for 15 different receivers who caught a pass. Most of the time, having six receivers catch a ball in a one game is sufficient enough.
To put that into perspective, the Blue Raiders nearly had more people bring in a pass than the top Alabama A&M receiver gained in yards (18).
Newcomers such as Dennis Andrews, Ty Lee, and Patrick Smith helped lead the way on Saturday. Another name that sparked the offense was newly named receiver Desmond Anderson.
In the past two months, the now leaders of the receivers have come from no names to big fame. Ty Lee was a new signee that hadn’t lost a game in two seasons, Patrick Smith was a redshirt-junior transfer who was looking to get playing time, Dennis Andrews wasn’t even on the team yet and Desmond Anderson was fighting for starting role at the running back position.
In sports, kids are taught at a young age that when your number is called, you must step up and rise to the occasion. These four, along with the other 11 receivers who made the stat sheet last week, have certainly done that thus far.
All-American wide receiver Richie James had confidence in the crew long before the matchup.
“Nah, I believe in the other guys,” James told Sidelines last Tuesday at practice when asked if he felt any added pressure because of the injuries. “I believe in every other receiver we have, so I do not feel any pressure at all.”
“This is when leadership comes in handy,” James said. “You’ve got younger guys who have to play, so they’ve got to step up. You’ve got guys around them that’s been here that has to step up also.”
James will be the first to say that his fellow receivers didn’t just turn into the players they are now overnight.
Neither Andrews nor Anderson had ever played wide receiver before just recently. While at Georgia Tech, Andrews played A-Back in the triple-option attack that the school is so known for running, and Anderson was the third leading rusher for MTSU last season, but made the swap to wide receiver after Jocquez Bruce went down with a leg injury two weeks ago.
“It’s been really new, but it’s coming along really good,” Anderson said.
“You know, I just come out here and get better every day and learn from the players that have been playing wide receiver for a long time,” Anderson said. “You know, I’ve been going up and watching extra film and really, it’s a good transition for me.”
But while the night was exciting in many aspects for many wideouts, the group left with one less man than when they entered Floyd Stadium.
Senior and starting wide receiver Demetrius Frazier left the ballgame with an injury to his lower extremities in the first quarter. Frazier collapsed in the end zone following a 13-yard touchdown strike down the middle of the field from Stockstill.
Frazier was carted off the field and did not return. The severity of his injury is still undetermined, but he is likely out for an extended time.
Luckily, this isn’t the first time a starting wide receiver has gone down on short notice. The motto for the year is “next man up” and the Blue Raiders will look to keep that rolling.
Kickoff this Saturday against Vanderbilt in Nashville is set for 3 p.m.