Competition the Theme for Blue Raider Offense

Pictured: MT Running Back Jeremiah Bryson Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders played University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers on Saturday, October 18 for their homecoming game. Photo by Greg French MTSU Sidelines Staff Photographer

By Steven Johnson//Contributing Writer

MTSU’s offense was certainly a strong point of the team last year and offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner seems intent on keeping it that way.

His preferred method of choice? Open competition at the most important positions in the Blue Raider offense: quarterback and running back.

Last season, centered around the zone-read, MTSU posted the third-best rushing attack in the conference after averaging a solid 213 yards per game.

Blue Raider signal caller Austin Grammer posted great numbers in Faulkner’s spread option attack, accounting for just under 3,000 yards of total offense and 23 touchdowns in his first full season.

With such a successful rookie campaign, Grammer was virtually a lock to be the starter headed into the 2015-16 season.

Instead, the quarterback position has turned into a competition, much like last spring when Grammer earned the opening day start.

Grammer and redshirt freshman Brent Stockstill are the primary challengers for the opening day start, with the latter only appearing in the season opener against Savannah State last season.

“Everything you try to do is competition,” Faulkner said about the quarterbacks. “Last year’s over and the biggest thing here is that we have a competition and the best guy will play.”

The first-team reps have been divided evenly between the two quarterbacks throughout spring practices, and seems guaranteed to remain that way until MTSU’s opening game arrives.

Statistically, even though it is just spring practices, the two have been fairly similar with Grammer accounting for 322 passing yards and four touchdowns. along with completing 76 percent of his passes.

Stockstill has not been far off, posting solid numbers of 295 yards and four touchdowns to go along with a 70 percent completion rate.

Regardless of spring numbers and the Blue and White spring game this Saturday afternoon, Faulkner was adamant the Blue and White game “would have no impact” on the quarterback battle.

Another position battle in spring camp is at the running back spot, as three players seem primed to replace last season’s leading rusher, Reggie Whatley.

With a wealth of experience and versatility at the position, expectations for the group are high as the Blue Raiders prepare for Saturday’s scrimmage.

“We’ve got a great group in the backfield in Jordan Parker, Shane Tucker, Jeremiah Bryson,” Faulkner said. “Any one of those guys can step in and be a 1,000-yard back.”

Similar to last season, minus the plethora of injuries, it looks like Faulkner will have a committee in the Blue Raider backfield.

While Faulkner strayed away from indicating who will get the bulk of the touches, Jordan Parker or Shane Tucker may be the most viable candidates.

At 220 pounds, Parker has the ability to ground out the tough yards while showing explosiveness upon entering the second level. Tucker is also a physical runner who excels in space and may even be more dangerous lined up in the slot as opposed to the backfield, much like Bryson.

The Blue and White spring game is set to begin at 1 p.m. CT this Saturday at Floyd Stadium.

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To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.

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