#24 Murray State FCS Football 2012 Preview

Murray State Racers

Overall Rank: #24
#3 Ohio Valley
Murray State FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Murray State Team Page


After winning six games in his debut season as Murray State’s head coach, Chris Hatcher took the Racers to the next step by upping that total to seven wins and having the Racers on the cusp of their first playoff appearance since 2002. And ending that drought, of course, would be the next step for this program. And the Racers are building the depth and talent to not just reach the playoffs, but make some serious noise once they get there. However, the Ohio Valley Conference is always tough and it will not be easy for the Racers to get seven or eight wins this year.

2011 Record: (7-4, 5-3)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Chris Hatcher (13-9 at Murray State, 31-24 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mitch Stewart
Defensive Coordinator: Ashley Anders

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Duane Brady, RB, 283 yards
Passing: Casey Brockman, QB, 3,276 yards
Receiving: Walter Powell, WR, 584 yards
Tackles: Sam Small, LB, 115
Sacks: Kevin Robinson, DE, 7.0
Interceptions: Darius Buck, DB, 2; Julian Whitehead, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: WR Hannibal Beauford, C Harris Bivin, LB Qua Huzzie, G Andy Mahoney, WR Patrick Robertson, CB Darrian Skinner, LB Blake Salter, OT Roderick Tomlin, WR Ja-Vonta Trotter, S Brandon Wicks

Key Losses: WR Arthur Brackett, LB Andre Clarke, K/P Kienan Cullen, LB Darrell Davis, DT Joe Gamsky, RB Mike Harris, OT Raymond Hopson, CB Dontrell Johnson, G Elbert Ojendis, DT Ryan Walker

The Racers offense, dubbed the “Hatch Attack” has steadily improved over the last two seasons and now all the players are familiar with the system. The catalyst of the attack is senior quarterback Casey Brockman. Brockman already has plenty of passing records, but he will likely add some career marks if he keeps up his current pace. As a junior, Brockman threw for 3,276 yards and 25 touchdowns. He is a very accurate passer who has developed into a smart signal caller who knows when to tuck and run, which he is very capable of doing, and when to scramble and keep looking down field. And Brockman must like what he sees when he looks down field. The Racers had eight receivers who caught at least 23 passes last season. Walter Powell, Ja-Vonta Trotter and Hannibal Beauford were the most productive last season and those three are all back. With a majority of the offensive line returning, led by tackle Roderick Tomlin, guard Andy Mahoney and center Harris Bivin, Brockman should have plenty of time to make things happen. Despite the pass happy attack, MSU running back Mike Harris rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Replacing that production will not be easy, but Duane Brady should benefit from the talented offensive line and the system that opens up gaps for any rusher. Brady has been a solid backup for Harris over the last two seasons and he should be ready to pick up the slack.

It is unfair to call the defense a weakness, but compared to the high powered offense the defense is often overshadowed. The defensive line is led by end Kevin Robinson, who came on very strong at the end of the 2011 campaign and ended the year with seven sacks and six quarterback hurries. Transfer Adrian Dinkins and junior Ayo Ojolola could make an impact opposite of Robinson. The middle of the line has a few players who have starting experience, most notably Tevin Wells and Tyler Evans. But they also add former Kent State recruit Jerome Davis in the hopes that he can at least provide some much needed depth to the interior line. The linebacker corps appeared to be in great shape heading into the 2012 campaign. Sam Small was coming off of a superb season in which he led the Racers with 115 tackles. Qua Huzzie was a consistent presence in the opposing backfield and South Carolina transfer Corey Addison was ready to fill in opposite Huzzie. But now Small’s season is in doubt after a spring injury and the pressure will be on Blake Salter to take over for Small in the middle of the defense. This is still a solid group without Small, but his leadership and experience will be missed as long as he is on the sidelines. The secondary will be different without corner Dontrell Johnson, but the Racers return plenty of options. Julian Whitehead moved from safety to corner in the middle of the 2011 campaign and Darius Buck made the move in the spring. They will join Darrian Skinner, who is a solid corner when he is healthy, and safety Brandon Wicks, who totaled 89 tackles as a sophomore.

The Bottom Line:
Murray State will be one of the more fascinating teams to watch in 2012. The offense is fun and explosive, but this is also a proud program that is on the brink of returning to the glory days of the mid 90’s, or at least something somewhat reminiscent of those days. The problem is it is difficult to tell if the Racers have the ability to be consistent. The OVC is way too tough week in and week out to take a day off. And one bad loss somewhere along the way could be just enough to keep the Racers out of the postseason yet again.

Projected Postseason: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 152.27 (58th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 308.64 (7, 1)
Total Offense: 460.91 (4, 1)
Scoring Offense: 37.09 (3, 1)
Rushing Defense: 193.64 (102, 6)
Pass Defense: 201.36 (48, 3)
Total Defense: 395.00 (87, 5)
Scoring Defense: 28.55 (80, 5)
Turnover Margin: -.09 (59, 6)
Sacks: 2.00 (56, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.18 (68, 7)