The MTSU football team finally ended a seven-game losing streak Saturday with a 31-17 home win over Florida Atlantic.
Drayton Calhoun and the Blue Raider running back corp rushed for 302 yards last week leading the team to its first win of the season. MTSU beat FAU 31-17.
This Saturday, the Blue Raiders look to continue the momentum against in-state rival, Memphis, in the team’s first road game of the season. The teams have met every season since 2007, but this will be a whole different Tiger team, the Blue Raiders will face.
During the off season, the Tigers hired former TCU offensive coordinator Justin Fuente as UM’s new head coach. He brings a wide-open, spread offense that finished 2-10 last season. During his time as the Horned Frogs offensive coordinator from 2007-11, the team went a bowl game every season. TCU was 4-1 in those games, including a Rose Bowl victory in 2010. Fuente is the third head coach in four years at the Conference USA school.
Blue Raider head coach Rick Stockstill, who is 3-1 against the Tigers since 2007, believes this game will be a different challenge than previous recent match ups with UM.
“Memphis is a completely different team this year than they were a year ago, but they do have a lot of the same players,” Stockstill said. “Still, it changes how the coaches and players have to prepare. They have had three different coaches come thru here, as well as different players. They have had transfers coming in, and players graduating, but it is still Memphis.”
In the Sept. 8 victory over FAU, the Blue Raiders got it done on the ground with two of its running backs finishing with over 100 yards rushing for the first time 2009. Freshman Jordan Parker had 117 yards on the ground, while junior Drayton Calhoun added 104 yards with a score. The Blue Raiders finished with 302 rushing yards, the most since 353 against Austin Peay in 2010.
The usual starting tailback, Benny Cunningham missed last week’s game with an injury suffered in the McNeese State game on Aug. 30. Stockstill said Cunningham’s status for Saturday’s game in still unknown, but he might know something later in the week.
The Tigers offense is led by junior Texas Tech transfer Jacob Karam. So far, this season the UM quarterback has thrown for 311 yards with three touchdowns. On the bright side, the Tigers are on a six-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 29 of last season. The Tigers’ last win was on Oct. 22 at Tulane. But, UM is coming off a narrow 33-28 loss to Arkansas State last Saturday.
The Tigers are still taking the loss to the Red Wolves very hard, first-year head coach Fuente said during his weekly press conference Monday.
“They showed up and went to work,” Fuente said. “I feel like the game hurt some of them, which is a good thing. When you become more invested in something and it doesn’t go right, it hurts more. Sometimes, people won’t get fully invested in something because the do not want to put themselves out there if it does not work out. I feel like our guys right now are that hurt.”
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis. The game will not be televised. Next week, the Blue Raiders have an open date, and do not play again until Sept. 29 at Georgia Tech.