|The MTSU football team will be back in action Saturday at rival Florida Atlantic after being idle last week.
But, the Blue Raiders will have a different offensive coordinator. Willie Simmons was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend last week and resigned his post Friday night.
MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill addressed the issue to the media at a weekly press conference Tuesday.
“It was a complete shock and surprise to us, and totally was out of his character. He knows he made a mistake, and hopefully he puts this behind him.” Stockstill said.
He later added he was notified of the incident late last week.
Simmons also met with Stockstill, Blue Raider Director of Athletics Chris Massaro and MTSU President Sidney McPhee. Then Simmons made the decision to resign. Stockstill said the incident was not a distraction to the team.
“This will have nothing to do with how we prepare for this game,” Stockstill said.
Moving forward, quarterback coach Buster Faulkner will take over the offensive coordinator duties, Stockstill said.
All of the other coaches have also had their duties increased with Simmons out.
The offense is currently the Sun Belt’s best averaging 468.6 yards per game, which also has the offense ranked 21st in the nation. On the ground, MTSU has an average of 169.4 yards per game, which is also tops in the conference. It is also ranked 17th in the nation in passing with 299.2 yards per contest.
That is even with two of the team’s top rushers out with injuries, Benny Cunningham and D.D. Kyles. Cunningham missed the last game against Western Kentucky on Oct. 6, and Kyles will be out this week.
Sophomore William Pratcher has stepped up the rushing attack. In the loss to WKU, Pratcher had a career high 106 yards on the ground.
“He continues to improve, and he works hard and has a great attitude,” Stockstill said.
As for the team, MTSU is trying to bounce back after the tough overtime loss to the Hilltoppers.
Currently, the Blue Raiders are (1-4, 0-2). Its opponent this week, the FAU Owls, are (0-6, 0-3). However, the players know it will not be a sure victory.
“Every game we are expecting a dog fight regardless of record,” MTSU quarterback Logan Kilgore said.
Junior defensive end Omar McLendon added the team needs to limit its mistakes.
“I believe we need to stay close as a team,” he said. “This is where we find out what kind of team we have.”
The game kicks off at the Owls new stadium Saturday at 7 p.m. The game will be shown on the SBC network, which locally is CSS, Channel 27.