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August 18, 2008After an off day Sunday, Middle Tennessee was back out on the Floyd Stadium turf Monday as the Blue Raiders turned the page on fall camp and now set their sights squarely on the season opener with Troy next Thursday.
But the next 10 days of game preparation didn't get off to the start that coach Rick Stockstill had envisioned as the team came out without the up tempo energy that he was hoping to see before picking it up later in practice.
"I thought the last half of today's practice was more up tempo than the first part ... We just weren't getting the effort that I wanted out of it so we tried to push them a little bit," Stockstill said. "I thought we were a little slow, a little slow coming out of the blocks today so that's what we've got to do as coaches, we've got to push them. I thought the second half was a lot better than the first half of practice."
Stockstill and his staff will begin fully implementing their gameplan for the Trojans on Tuesday, at which point the start of the season will clearly be on the horizon.
Stockstill said Tuesday's practice would include what he calls the "Beanie Bowl", when the coaching staff will simulate several different game situations and put the team through its full pregame routine to simulate game conditions while the scout teams will play the role of Troy's offense and defense.
Though it's always difficult preparing for a season opener, the Blue Raiders have the luxury of facing a very familiar foe.
Stockstill said with that being the case, there aren't too many unknowns.
"I bet FIU when they played us [in the 2006 season opener], I bet that was harder preparing for us because they really didn't know what was going on, what we were doing offensively and what we were doing defensively," Stockstill said. "I imagine that was pretty hard [for them].
"Troy knows what we're going to do, we know what Troy is going to do. You'll make subtle changes in the offseason. I think when there's not a coaching change then that preparation for that first game isn't quite as drastic."
Troy did make a change at offensive coordinator when Tony Franklin departed the Trojans for Auburn, but head coach Larry Blakney promoted from within when he named Neal Brown his new offensive coordinator.
Middle Tennessee wide receiver Patrick Honeycutt is glad to have to an opponent to prepare for after the rigors of fall camp.
"We started watching film on Troy and just the mindset is completely different," Honeycutt said. "It's all business now from here on out. It's not just going up against the defense and trying to kill each other. It's all business and we're just trying to get focused."
Another injury scare
Even with all of the injuries Middle Tennessee has suffered along the offensive line, there may not be a position that can absorb an injury less than linebacker, and the Blue Raiders got a scare Monday.
Danny Carmichael left the practice field favoring his arm, but Stockstill was able to breathe a little easier after practice when he heard some encouraging news.
"I think he's OK, they x-rayed it and it's not broken or anything," Stockstill said.
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