Golden Eagle Football Countdown: Homecoming vs. Murray State
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With six days to go until the pigskin (officially) flies through the air for the first time, we'll be previewing all 10 TTU opponents here on TTUsports.com.
Countdown to season opener: 6 days
Who: Murray State Racers
What: Game 8, OVC game No. 6
When: Saturday, Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Tucker Stadium, Cookeville, Tenn.
Events: Homecoming and Hall of Fame Game
Both teams hope to be in the hunt for the Ohio Valley Conference crown when Murray State comes to Cookeville in early November, so this game will serve as a proving ground. This game is the back end of what will likely be the most daunting two-game stretch of the season for Tech — facing the OVC's top two teams, according to preseason polls, on consecutive Saturdays. A week earlier, Tech visits Jacksonville State for the Gamecocks' Homecoming.
The visit by the Racers is Tech's Homecoming game.
After a long stretch of finishing at or near the bottom of the league, the Racers began to right their ship in 2010 under first-year head coach Chris Hatcher. The team weathered an 0-3 start that became 1-4, but the Racers finished by winning five of their last six games to go 6-5, notching their first winning season since 2004.
The 2011 season marks the second year of Hatcher's tenure in Murray and brings with it an excitement that hasn't been seen around the program in some time. The Racers return all but one starter from an offense that rewrote the school's record books last season while also bringing back nine from the defense.
Murray State finished first in the OVC in both scoring offense (36.1 points per game) and total offense (449.7 yards per game) in 2010 as well as passing offense (313.5 yards per game). The Racers ranked near the bottom of the league, however, in most defensive categories. The extreme stats were due in part to Hatcher's high-energy, fast-moving offense which led to more plays being run by both the Racers and their opponents.
Quarterback Casey Brockman returns for his junior season and does so as the Preseason OVC Player of the Year. Despite starting just the final six games of last season, Brockman (2,442 yds, 15 TD, 67% complete) ranked in the top ten nationally in completions, total offense, passing yards and points responsible while also earning a pair of National Player of the Week honors.
Brockman's partner in crime in Murray State's backfield will be senior running back Mike Harris, an All-OVC first-team selection who ran for 904 yards in 10 touchdowns in his first season as a Racer last year. The Racers must replace record-breaking wide receiver Marcus Harris but return sophomore Arthur Brackett (617 yds, 3 TD) while returning all five starters on the offensive line.
Defensively, Murray State is deep on the defensive line while graduation hit the linebacking corps hard. Cornerback Dontrell Johnson (67 tackles, 2 INT), an OVC first-teamer on defense and also as a return specialist, is perhaps the star of the defense.
Kicker Kienan Cullen (15 FG) was a first-team All-OVC selection.
Junior quarterback Casey Brockman