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August 22, 2005MT FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
(Practice No. 19 & 20)
ANDY MCCOLLUM ON PRACTICE: "What I liked (Monday morning) was that we finished with team - one offense against one defense - and went third-down situations. For the first time in a few days I saw the enthusiasm you are looking for. I saw both sides of the ball get excited when we made plays and that's what it is supposed to be about out here. They finished strong. I think they all were a bit weary early but picked up as the day went and I'm very pleased with how it ended."
REVIEWING SATURDAY'S SCRIMMAGE: "It was a good scrimmage. The glaring thing afterward was having young guys take care of the football. Some of them may not have been called a fumble but some would have. There were a few missed assignments here or there and we need to do a better job tackling, but overall I saw some good things. We just have to get better at some of the fundamental aspects."
MCCOLLUM ON LEADERSHIP: "I've been impressed with Eugene Gross and the job he has done leading the young running backs. We have Alex Suber, Ronald Steed, Ralph King and Eddie Brown, who are either newcomers or young guys in our program at the position and I like the way Eugene has handled himself with them. Those young guys have to grow up fast if they want to play and (Gross) is helping bring them along from a position-player standpoint.
"I think Cleannord Saintil, Chris Henry, Pierre Ingram and Walt Bell, at receiver, are some guys who have been there and are being good leaders. I see Bobby Williams, Michael Cannon, Jay Robinson and Dale Galvin, all young receivers, making progress and they all have a chance to help this football team. Bobby Williams is a big-play guy and made some more big plays today in practice.
"Defensively, Jordan Wilson has a chance to help us at corner. J.K. Sabb has a chance at linebacker as a newcomer. Trevor Jenkins and Brandon Perry, two young guys inside, have tremendous ability and good work ethic.
"The older guys are leading them and this is the time you look for the leadership to continue rising."
NEW HIRES: Head Coach Andy McCollum announced today that three staff members have been promoted within the program. Richard Burnoski, Chris Matusek, and Cedric Walthaw all were elevated to positions on the football staff.
Burnoski, who was a graduate assistant for the Blue Raiders in 2004, was promoted to Director of Football Operations. Burnoski replaces Tom Fiveash who resigned on June 30. The Jacksonville, Fla., native assists the head football coach with the day-to-day administration of the Blue Raider football program, oversees the football budget, and serves as the Summer Football Camp Diretor. Burnoski also acts as the Director of High School Relations and Community Relations.
Matusek, a former player for McCollum, is now the Administrative Assistant and will oversee the equipment operation and staff, and handle all team travel, including team meals, hotel arrangements, practice, team escort, and overall itinerary. The Shelbyville, Tenn., native will also assist with the Blue and Silver Club and serve as the former player's contact.
Walthaw, a former standout linebacker for Southern Miss, takes over as the head strength coach for football. Walthaw has been at Middle Tennessee since 1997 as a graduate assistant before becoming full-time in 1999. After serving as the head strength coach for the men's basketball program the past eight years, Walthaw will now work strictly with the football program.
JERSEY'S GOING WELL: Middle Tennessee's replica football jersey's debuted on Friday and the response has been good. During Saturday's Fan Day, Lightning's Locker Room sold 40 and interest continues to grow.
FLY TO FLORIDA: Middle Tennessee fans can travel to sunny south Florida to support the Blue Raiders in October with games against league rivals Florida Atlantic and Florida International. Southwest Airlines is offering a special internet rate of $39.00 one way from Nashville to Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Flights must be taken before December of 2005. MT plays at Florida Atlantic on October 15 in Boca Raton and Florida International on October 29 in Miami. Ft Lauderdale is 28 miles from Miami and 21 miles from Boca Raton. You must book your flights on www.southwest.com before September 8 to get this special rate. It would be best to book as soon as possible since there are a limited number of seats at this rate. You can also purchase game tickets at the MT ticket office by calling 898-2103.
JOIN THE BLUE & SILVER CLUB: The Blue and Silver Club is an exclusive membership for football fans of Middle Tennessee. If you want to get the real inside scoop and get a better understanding of the game, the Blue and Silver Club is for you.
Already, 75 members have joined on and room is limited so act fast and get inside the Blue Raider huddle today. Members are invited to attend the annual preseason staff cookout, will receive a pass for home games to come down on the field to view pregame workouts, and will have the opportunity to have lunch with Head Coach Andy McCollum on Friday's before home games to discuss the upcoming opponent, watch film, and get an understanding of the gameplan. Other members of the staff will also be on hand to provide commentary and answer any questions. Anyone who is not a member and wants to join the club, please call Richard Burnoski at 615-898-2311.