COLUMN: A good time for an open house week

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee – There wasn’t much to say for the Lynchburg, Va. Blue Raiders. At the start of the week, playing against a Liberty team that had lost just two games in the past two seasons was always going to be a tough task.

“Give Liberty credit, they have a good football team”, head coach Rick stockstill said after the 41-13 defeat. “I said at the start of this week that I thought they were the best team we’ve played against this year, and they proved it.”

There were some strong moments. Three excellent interceptions from the Middle Tennessee defense allowed the Blue Raiders to spin one of the best turnover machines in the country. The actual games were more impressive than the stats themselves: Grégory Grid skip a screen and run the road and tap your toes like the best wideout to secure the grip, DQ Thomas don’t bite while running wrong and skip the pop pass, and Decorian Patterson turn your head and make a big adjustment to secure the grip and send it back over 30 yards.

But, Middle Tennessee was only able to add six points to those three turnovers. Not enough to keep up with an armed Liberty attack from one of the nation’s top quarterbacks.

“He’s a great player, he’s got a great athleticism,” Thomas said of Flame quarterback Malik Willis. “He’s quite slippery, has good body control, good pocket presence. He’s just able to play good on the go.”

Willis certainly made plays sometimes, it’s hard for a player of his caliber not to get his once in a while. But Willis’ success was only made worse by the fact that the Blue Raider’s offensive line never faced an active defensive front, with the quarterback Chase cunningham fight the pressure all afternoon and the racing game never gets to a place where they could get something done.

“They just whipped us,” Stockstill said. “We tried to steal, we kept a back there and tried to help the tackles. It still didn’t work. They were tougher than us up front, they dominated us.”

A tough game to deal with right after, Stockstill mentioned that it was hard to take any positives from the way they played. But on paper, the team’s toughest game of the season is behind them. And with a crucial final stretch of the season ahead of them, next Saturday’s opening date is a crucial opportunity for the Blue Raiders to maximize the rest of their season.

Practice will be tough, as usual, but the gift of extra time will help replenish the depth that has diminished in various groups of positions in the roster, and will simply help those in Saturday’s game get even closer. of 100%.

“It’s gonna be big, for everyone who plays a lot of snaps in particular”, Jimmy marshall, who had seven catches and one touchdown on Saturday, said. “It’s a week’s work, but the rest will certainly be necessary.”

Stockstill said the coaching staff will use the coming weekend to recruit, but finding the right balance between continuing to improve and improving the health of the team is essential in the coming days.

“We’ve had so many guys out there in the last two weeks, three weeks, we’ve got to be healthy,” Stockstill said. “You always have to train, you always have to find a way to improve yourself. But the number one priority is to get healthy so that we can get our guys back there, because we are really beaten right now.”

There are building blocks to be found in the second half of the Blue Raiders. An offense that found its rhythm during the first six quarters under Chase cunningham, a defense that continues to receive take-out. This gave Stockstill confidence in this team, as well as their safety, Grégory Grid.

“It’s a crucial week because I feel like we need to come together more as a team, bond and correct our mistakes,” said Grate. “Eliminate the penalties, eliminate the big games, just come together and play our game.

“Because when we play our game, I feel like no one can really stop us.”

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