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November 7, 2008Middle Tennessee starts the final third of the season Saturday when ULM comes to Floyd Stadium for Homecoming in Murfreesboro.
Which Blue Raiders should you keep a close eye on as MT seeks its third win of the season?
GoMiddle.com picks out the five MT players most on the spot against the Warhawks.
1.] Phillip Tanner
Middle Tennessee's ground game struggles have been well documented all season, but ULM has not been a good defensive team against the run all year and offers the Blue Raiders a chance to amp up the ground attack. Tanner nor any other Blue Raider has had a 100 yard rushing game this year. If he gets the first against ULM, MT will almost certainly be celebrating a win.
2.] Malcolm Beyah
After a terrific start to his true freshman season, Beyah cooled off some on the just completed three game road trip. He did catch a touchdown pass at Louisville, but overall in those three road games tallied just eight catches for 49 yards. His big play ability is what helped the offense have some explosiveness in the first half of the season. Beyah had five catches of at least 30 yards in the first five games of the season, but hasn't had one since. Homecoming Saturday at Floyd Stadium would be a great time for him to rack up another big play through the air.
3.] Ivon Hickmon
Hickmon has been MT's enforcer in the backfield for much of the season. The team leader in tackles for loss will try to corral ULM running back Frank Goodin, whose success often plays a big role in determining the Warhawks' success. Hickmon is coming off a very impressive road trip.
4.] Joe Craddock
Quarterback is always a key position to watch and this week will be no exception. Craddock and Dwight Dasher are both expected to play. Since MT/ULM games are traditionally very high scoring, Craddock's passing may be more needed than Dasher's running. Craddock would also like to avoid being the quarterback that throws a record tying interception ULM safety Greg James, who is just one interception away from matching former Blue Raider Bradley Robinson's Sun Belt career record of 14.
5.] David DeFatta
Rick Stockstill has publically said he wants to see more consistency from DeFatta, who has struggled recently to get hang time on his punts. It's a big reason why opponents are averaging nearly 11 yards per punt return against the Blue Raiders this year. ULM has not been a particularly strong punt returning team, but the Warhawks have done a much better job in net punting than the Blue Raiders have. MT needs to win this hidden yardage battle to help keep the field position in its favor.