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Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015

Johnson: Dasher gives Blue Raiders extra spark

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Middle Tennessee junior quarterback Dwight Dasher is putting together a rather impressive season. His numbers are among the best in the nation.
(T-G Photo by Gary Johnson)
What a fantastic football season it's been so far for Middle Tennessee.

A 10-win season remains a possibility as the Blue Raiders (8-3) close out the regular season Saturday at Louisiana-Monroe and, more than likely, will participate in a bowl game.

It's just the second time in 15 years that the Blue Raiders have won eight games in a season. The other was in 2001 when MT finished 8-3.

Middle Tennessee finished its 2009 home slate with a 5-1 record, including a perfect 4-0 mark in conference games. Over the last two years, the Blue Raiders have a mark of 9-2 at home and have won seven straight against Sun Belt competition. The five home wins in 2009 are the most by the Blue Raiders since they went 5-0 at Floyd Stadium in 2001.

The lone home loss was to SEC foe Mississippi State.

It's been truly amazing to watch this team develop as the year has progressed. I've been covering MT football for years and this year's team improved during the season more than any other that I can remember.

Outstanding coaching along with better athletes can be credited for the improvement.

Another key ingredient to MT's success is overall team speed. Other than maybe Troy, they are the quickest team in the conference.

The addition of offensive coordinator Tony Franklin has been a huge success as well. Franklin brought in his spread offense and the results have been very positive.

The Blue Raiders are averaging 31 points along with 430 yards of total offense a game. They average 75 offensive plays per game and have scored 79 percent of the time they've reached the red zone.

MT went over 400 yards of total offense for the seventh time this season in its 38-14 win over Arkansas State Saturday.

Junior quarterback Dwight Dasher has adapted to Franklin and his offense and is ranked in the top five in the nation in total yards.

Dasher has rushed for 856 yards and nine touchdowns on 180 carries and thrown for 2,511 yards and 19 TDs. Even though he has thrown 12 interceptions he has been named the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week twice this season.

Only six times in the history of college football has a player gained 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in a single-season and Dasher only needs 135 yards rushing to join this elite club.

Clemson's Woody Dantzler was the first player to accomplish the feat (2,360 passing, 1,004 rushing), then Missouri's Brad Smith did it in 2002 and again in 2005. Texas and now Tennessee Titan quarterback Vince Young added his name to the list in 2005. Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour did it in 2007 followed by Nevada's Colin Kaepernick in 2008.

-- Gary Johnson is a Times-Gazette sports writer. He can be reached at gjohnson@t-g.com.

Gary Johnson
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