2010 Middle Tennessee preview - QB edition

With just over two months remaining before the kickoff to the 2010 football season, BlueRaiderZone will be doing a series of position previews for the upcoming season. The first part of the series will focus on the quarterback position in 2010.

The high-powered Middle Tennessee offense can be summed up in one word: Dasher. Senior quarterback Dwight Dasher is the heart and soul of the Blue Raider attack, as his eye-popping 2009 stats can attest:

2,789 passing yards.

A team-best 1,154 rushing yards.

36 total touchdowns.

Blue Raider fans have been aware of Dasher since his freshman year, when he made a splash by almost single-handedly handing the in-state Memphis Tigers a loss at the Liberty Bowl. The rest of the country got to know him after his record-setting performance in the 2009 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Dasher made the most of his turn in the national spotlight by going 15-for-25 with 162 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. In addition to that, he added two rushing touchdowns by rushing for a New Orleans Bowl record of 201 yards. Middle Tennessee would go on to beat Southern Miss by a score of 42-32 thanks in large part to his strong performance.

A true dual-threat quarterback, Dasher has the ability to throw opposing defenses into a frenzy, but he is also prone to mistakes. Despite his strong numbers, Dasher also threw 14 interceptions last year including a trio of games where he threw three picks. Not surprisingly, the Blue Raiders were 1-2 on those occasions, dropping games to Clemson and Mississippi State (a game in which his three INT's came in only three quarters of play).

The coaching staff identified turnovers as the main aspect to work on this past off-season. New offensive coordinator Mike Schultz and passing game coordinator Willie Simmons are determined to cut down on the interceptions in 2010. Several staff members have said that there will be fewer designed runs from Dasher in the upcoming season. In 2009, a depleted core of running backs mandated that Dasher carry both the passing and run games on his shoulders. That shouldn't be a problem in 2010 as the Blue Raider backfield will feature a three-way attack from the likes of Phillip Tanner, D. D. Kyles and Benjamin Cunningham.

On top of that, Schultz has plenty of experience in spread-style offenses that also encompass the run thanks to eleven years spent working the offense at TCU. Although the designed runs will be fewer, defenses still have to play it safe with Dasher, who can turn a botched play into a big gain with his elusive scrambling abilities.

After Dasher, the quarterback spot is a bit worrisome for the Blue Raiders. They've had three backups leave over the course of the off-season (Ryan Rosenvall, Brent Burnette and Jamal Ramsey) which effectively obliterated depth at the signal-calling position. Rick Stockstill and the crew did manage to sign an heir-apparent to the starter's spot in JUCO qb Logan Kilgore. Kilgore has done nothing but impress since arriving in Murfreesboro, but ideally he would redshirt in 2010 and preserve another year of eligibility in the P.D. era (post-Dasher).

So the staff went out and found their second JUCO quarterback of the signing class: Jeff Murphy. According to Stockstill, Murphy provides some much needed non-Kilgore assurance and experience behind Dasher. In 2008, Murphy managed to put up 2,000 yards through the air, despite splitting time at quarterback. He also put up 22 passing TD's to only eight interceptions. On top of that, Stockstill says that he's an above-average runner. Obviously he's no Dasher when scrambling, but he's perfectly capable of fitting into Middle's high-powered attack.

Stay tuned to BlueRaiderZone.com for more 2010 previews!

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