MTSU set to kick off 2020 football season at Army

RICK STOCKSTILL

MTSU's football will be the first FBS game of the day on Saturday when the Blue Raiders play at Army.

Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

"Everything was different this year, and I commend our players for buying in, and they've done a really, really nice job of getting to this point," MTSU coach Rick Stockstill said. "We've had a great August, and we're playing a really good football team in Army."

Army is well known for its triple-option attack that averaged almost 300 yards on the ground last season.

"You have to do your job," MTSU senior safety Reed Blankenship said. "You can't play all over the field like you can in other games. You just have to read your keys, and if you don't do your job, they can break one for 50 or 60 (yards)."

MTSU rarely sees the option game, which makes it even more difficult to face in a season opener.

"Obviously, it was different and I wished we would've had more time to prepare for it, but that's not an excuse," Stockstill said. "Our players have done a really good job of studying Army and working on Army.

"In a normal situation, we start game preparation about 10 days out. We really started implementing some Army stuff about two or three days after they announced that we were going to play. We've gotten a little more time."

MTSU's offense, meanwhile, is faced with the task of cashing in on as many possessions as possible because the Black Knight are capable of sustaining long drives that eat up the clock.

The Blue Raiders figured to have a boost in their backfield with addition of West Virginia transfer Martell Pettaway and Florida State transfers Amir Rasul. However, both opted out this season because of the COVID-19 virus.

The running game now will be in the hands of junior Chaton Mobley and seniors Brad Anderson and Jayy McDonald and freshman Frank Peasant.

MTSU's best running option last year was quarterback Asher O'Hara, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season. However, he needs more production from the backfield and his wide receivers.

"I've been trying to trust my receivers, and the offensive line has done such a good job of making me feel comfortable this year," O'Hara said. "I was watching some film from last year, and I noticed how often I would just tuck it and run. While it works sometimes, it's not something I should rely on all the time because I have such good athletes around me that I can use."

Following Saturday's game, MTSU will be off next week before returning to action Sept. 19 against Troy at home.

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