The Monday After Report: Blue Raiders prepare for short turnaround against Marshall

Running back Jocquez Bruce outruns a Panther defender against Florida International on Oct. 7, 2017, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Devin P. Grimes/MTSU Sidelines).

Photo by Devin P. Grimes / MTSU Sidelines

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (3-4, 1-2) have a short time to prepare for their next game, as the Marshall Thundering Herd will come into town for a primetime match-up on ESPN.

The Blue Raiders are coming off of a tough loss to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers by a final score 25-23. When the game was on the line, Middle Tennessee just couldn’t muster the offense needed to finish the game with a win.

Quarterback John Urzua was bitten once again by the turnover bug, as he threw two interceptions when the team needed points. The season doesn’t get any easier this week, as Marshall comes in on a high note.

“They’ve got a really good team this year; a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence (is what) they’ll play with,” said Head Coach Rick Stockstill. “This is a game that we’ve got to have a great week of preparation and great week of practice and be ready to play a really good football team.”

The defense will also look to improve on an inconsistent showing where they gave up over 400 yards of total offense. One thing that could help the team as a whole is getting to the quarterback and forcing him into tough throws.

“We’ve got to get around him, we’ve got to harass him,” Stockstill said. “If you do that, you’ve got a chance to create some more pressure the rest of the game.”

This will be no easy feat however, as the Thundering Herd offensive line has only given up three sacks through six games this year.

“We have to do a good job of disguising our blitzes, and when we actually blitz, we have to go hard every time,” said linebacker D.J. Sanders. “We have to continue to try and get back there, because sometimes our blitz lines aren’t the best, and we are really going to focus on that this week.”

This game could be the ultimate test for the Blue Raiders, who will be without their star quarterback Brent Stockstill for the sixth straight contest. After losing a heartbreaker to UAB, this team is as eager as ever to get back on the field.

“After the game, we were really disappointed because we lost and we felt like we could have played better,” Sanders said. “Yesterday, we were really focused on the little things. We worked on catching the ball, because you never know when the defense will get a chance to catch a pick.”

The Blue Raiders and Thundering Herd will go to battle under the Friday night lights on ESPN, with kick-off set for 6 p.m.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis (@RustyEllis13), email

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