Blue Raiders Season Preview

Photo by Ayanna Bronner / Sidelines Contributor

Story by Ayanna Bronner / Contributing Writer

“Top to bottom this may be the best group of guys,” said Coach Stockstill. They have decent size and quickness, as well as competition since they are constantly fighting for their spots. 

Although the defensive players are smaller, they have great running ability, while the offensive line has a lot of depth. 

To play Monmouth, they must be prepared mentally and physically.  

The 2020 MTSU football team finished the regular season 3-6, 2-4 in CUSA play, finishing 5th in the East Division. The preceding year, they finished the regular season 4-8, 3-5 in CUSA play to finish 5th in the East Division. The 2020 Monmouth Hawks’ football season was canceled due to COVID-19, however, in 2019 they finished the season 11-3 overall and 6-0 in Big South play winning the conference title. They were defeated in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.   

As well as MTSU, the Monmouth Hawks will be returning many of their players.  

The team’s main concern is getting back on the field and excelling this season. 

Photo by Ayanna Bronner / Sidelines Contributor

Going into the season Coach Stockstill believes depth is the critical key. Last year, the team lost depth because of injuries and the ongoing quarantine. In addition to healing ankles and hamstrings, the guys also must worry about contact tracing. As a coach and player, you cannot relax throughout this upcoming season because they must fluctuate every day due to the changes. 

Coach Stockstill hopes that his athletes feel the energy of a great crowd, rather than the energy of a deep crowd. In the wake of playing in front of empty stadiums, Coach Stockstill hopes his players will gain extra juice from playing in front of a great crowd and in front of family and friends, as this is what players strive for. 

A keyword Reed Blankenship constantly used was maturity. 

To not have a real season last year put them in a dump, but they also understood they were incredibly young. The feeling of football being back is putting them in the mindset of being ready to go. 

Blankenship spoke about how receiving another chance in life is important, as few people get chances in life. Now they must make the most out of it on the football field. Since they have spent so much time together, they have matured and bonded together. He is looking forward to seeing these guys on the field. 

Photo by Ayanna Bronner / Sidelines Contributor

“I think we can be the top defense in the country,” stated Blankenship. This speaks volumes because if he has this much confidence in his team, the MTSU community should as well. 

They needed more reps and got better from the result of it. If everyone performs their job to their best ability, this will be an exciting season to watch. 

Blankenship mentioned being excited about Jalen Jackson as he has been able to come out of his shell and establish confidence in the cornerback position. After speaking with Jackson, he also anticipates playing at his peak this season after dealing with an injury over the summer. 

Part of Coach Dearmon’s strategy is running the ball with an emphasis by not only teaching them to run, but blocking as well. There is the possibility for all of them to have a significant impact on the game, as one can back up a player who is hurt. 

Amir Rasul talked about how reading keys does not change, and the running backs have to understand that. Things can remain the same or change, but they should never stray too far from the base. Their focus is on what they do well. 

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