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MTSU Puts Rest on Notice

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MTSU Puts Rest on Notice

Tom Sweeney photo.

This might be a rebuilding year for Middle Tennessee State University, but don't tell the rest of the South Independent that.

MTSU has knocked off major rivals Kennesaw State and, most recently, Memphis. That win ut MTSU at 4-0 in the SIRC North, and in excellent shape as they enter the winter break.

"We're young and injured," warned MTSU Head Coach Jody Hensley. "We're on our fourth flyhalf of the year. We've got freshmen and sophomores through the backline. We've got a lot to learn."

And yet Middle Tennessee State may well set themselves up for another division win and a spot in the conference playoffs in March. And if they do, the early wins will likely be credited to an experienced forward pack that hasn't seen too many shifts from last year. 

"We've got good leadership in the forwards," said Hensley. "The forwards stayed mostly intact from last year but in the backs it's been rebuilding time. We've got a system we want to run and we want to move the ball. The forwards have been able to open up the field, but, as my old coaches told me, you've got to earn the right to go wide."

Leading the way for MTSU is Mason Hubbard, the openside flanker who is dominating in the, winning his team's throws and stealing as much as 50% of the opposition throws. 

"He's a big different for us in time of possession," said Hensley.

With the other team does win ball, prop Jesse Heckworth is a menace, ruining the clarity of the opposition's ball. Hensley says he deserves All American consideration. And hooker Adam Byrd has stepped in admirably in place of injured Stephen Geltch. 

Meanwhile, the work at flyhalf continues apace. Hensley has tried four players there, and could well be settling on Jaelen Maxwell, a product of the PCA program in the Memphis Inner City league. Maxwell still has a lot to learn, but with the confidence boost of a 4-0 record, the validation of a shutout of a very good Memphis team, and a winter break that gives them time to hone skills, Maxwell, the other youngsters, and the rest of Middle Tennessee State might be a team to watch next spring.

South Ind North W L T Pf Pa Pd BT BL Pts
Middle Tennessee 4 0 0 171 25 146 4 0 20
Memphis 2 2 0 108 51 57 3 1 12
Kennesaw State 2 1 0 96 82 14 2 0 10
Georgia Tech 1 3 0 39 183 -144 1 0 5
Georgia Southern 0 3 0 15 88 -73 0 0 0
South Ind South W L T Pf Pa Pd BT BL Pts
Florida State 3 2 0 116 93 23 2 1 15
Florida International 3 0 0 99 31 68 2 0 14
South Florida 2 2 0 89 104 -15 1 0 9
Central Florida 1 2 0 100 57 43 2 2 8
North Florida 0 3 0 17 136 -119 0 0 0