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September 4, 2008

Raiders on the spot: Maryland

For the second straight season, Middle Tennessee will host an ACC opponent at Floyd Stadium.

After scaring Virginia right down to the last second last year, the Blue Raiders will look to get over the hump against Maryland.

It will take contributions from up and down the Blue Raider roster, but a few players will be drawing the close eye of all Middle Tennessee fans.

Here are the five key players to watch against the Terrapins:

1.] Marcus Udell

Udell has the tall task of filling in for injured cornerback Rod Issac, who is doubtful to play according to Stockstill. Replacing Issac be no easy feat as the Blue Raiders gear up to defend an ACC offense that features plenty of talented offensive weapons at receiver. Udell was a highly touted junior college transfer and has plenty of talent. Coming out of high school, he was rated as a 4-star prospect and signed with Alabama. He had a tough debut in the season opener though, as his most memorable play was getting beat on a long 30-yard pass in the second quarter.



2.] Mark Fisher

Fisher is likely still not 100 percent healthy, but he defied all the skeptics by starting against Troy and playing 54 snaps. He now finds himself officially back on top of the depth chart at right tackle and the Blue Raiders are much better because of it. Fisher's presence provides a stabilizing influence on the line, and even though the Blue Raiders struggled in the trenches against Troy, having # 74 back on the field is a huge encouragement for the team. Now that he knows for sure he can take contact, he will be the key figure to watch on the offensive line Saturday.



3.] Patrick Honeycutt

Honeycutt has been billed by many as the team's most consistent playmaker at wide receiver and he showed that all through fall camp with his reliable hands and route running. Surprisingly, he was held without a catch against Troy last week. In order for the offense to be successful against Maryland, Honeycutt needs to have an increased role. With the emergence of Sancho McDonald and Malcolm Beyah last week, Honeycutt could find himself with some favorable matchups this week, and he has more big play ability than advertised.



4.] Trevor Jenkins

As a whole, the Raiders got dominated up front on both sides of the football against Troy. The run defense surrendered 164 yards as Trojan running back DuJuan Harris tallied nearly eight yards per carry. The challenge doesn't get any easier this week against Maryland big play threat Da'Rel Scott and Jenkins must step up this week and lead the charge to slow down the run. The 6-foot-1, 287 pound defensive tackle is one of the key leaders of the defensive line and he needs to be a run stopper to give the Blue Raiders an improved chance at victory.



5.] Jeremy Kellem

Kellem could be a solid pick for GoMiddle.com Blue Raider Fantasy Football players and he will likely play a big factor in MT's chances to win. The Terrapins feature one of the nation's most explosive receivers in Darrius Heyward-Bey and Kellem will be MT's last line of defense against the speedster. If the Blue Raiders have to use eight in the box to slow the run game, Kellem will definitely be on the spot in the secondary.



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