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Friday, May 6, 2016

Johnson: Raider excitement builds

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Junior quarterback Dwight Dasher has been the spark plug for the Blue Raider offense.
(T-G Photo by Gary Johnson)
Excitement's in the air at Middle Tennessee!

I know it's early and the team is only 1-1 but things are really looking good for the Blue Raider football program.

Being an alumnus, I've been to a lot of MTSU games both as a fan and as a member of the media, but what took place Saturday night was better than I ever expected.

There are a lot of football fans in Rutherford County and Murfreesboro. Just look at the successful high school programs in that area and their great fan bases. Rutherford County schools have claimed nine state championships in the past 25 years.

I've always wondered why that support has not carried over to MTSU games.

The Blue Raiders' 31-14 win over Memphis was great but what really impressed me was the excitement and atmosphere along with the huge crowd on hand. It was Blackout Night and a majority of fans were dressed in their blackout t-shirts.

Those 28,105 in attendance helped set a new attendance mark surpassing the previous record of 27,568 against Tennessee State in 1998. If Memphis had brought a few more fans this game could have been a sellout.

Speaking of sellouts, the Blue Raiders host Mississippi State on Oct.17. You might want to get tickets sooner rather than later.

I predict that Mississippi State will draw a big crowd and there could be a large walk-up gate, especially if the weather is nice.

If Middle Tennessee can find a way to win at Maryland this weekend a few more Blue Raider fans might jump on the bandwagon.

Another bright spot for the Blue Raiders has been the play of junior quarterback Dwight Dasher.

He was selected as the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week after accounting for 320 combined yards, connecting on 16-of-26 passes totaling 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also rushed for 89 yards on 17 carries.

After two games, Dasher leads the Sun Belt and ranks 20th nationally in total offense with 292.5 yards per game and has accounted for 80 percent of the team's total yards during that span (585 of 735 yards).

Gary Johnson
Point by Point