DB Brandon Lynch

2002 Statistics

Coach: Andy McCollum
21-24, 4 years
2002 Record: 4-8
at Alabama LOST 34-39
at Tennessee LOST 3-26
at Kentucky LOST 22-44
at Arkansas State LOST 7-13
at Vanderbilt WON 21-20
at Idaho LOST 18-21
at New Mexico State LOST 21-24

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

After a stellar eight-win campaign in 2001 that saw the Blue Raiders win the Sun Belt conference championship, Middle Tennessee was a popular dark-horse pick in 2002. Several media outlets tabbed MTSU to repeat as conference champs in 2002 - making their subsequent collapse all the more surprising.

One year later, the Blue Raiders appear to have reloaded, and could be prepared to live up those lofty expectations. The Hines-led attack should provide just enough offense to win, while the Blue Raiders depend on their deep and strong defense to keep them in games. But the other scenario, where Hines provides all he can and they barely marble a .500 season, is a distinct possibility. Hines is the key, though, regardless of the breakdown. His passing skills have to be on for this team to succeed, period. If the D is put in enough bad field-position situations, they can play well and points will still be scored as long as the field they protect is constantly short.

The schedule should be amenable to a rebound in the standings. As always, MTSU has a challenging early non-conference schedule. On consecutive weeks in September, the Blue Raiders must travel to Georgia, Clemson, and Missouri. In conference, however, the schedule stacks up in the favor of McCollum and his charges. Conference powers North Texas, New Mexico State, and Troy State must all travel to Murfreesboro to face the Blue Raiders on their home turf. Look for this team to win one they shouldn't and lose one similarly. Keep this team out of your weekly picks - unpredictable is the operative word here.

Projected 2003 record: 5-7
P Robert Billings
QB Andrico Hines
DT Devarick Scandrett
LB Alvin Fite
QB - 3 DL - 1.5
RB - 2 LB - 3
WR - 1.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Andrico Hines, 243-142-7, 1753 yds, 6 TD

Rushing: Andrico Hines, 150 att., 486 yds., 10 TD

Receiving: Chris Henry, 14 rec., 180 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Brian Kelly, 10-13 FG, 31-32 PAT, 1 PAT Rush., 63 pts.

Punting: Robert Billings, 61 punts, 42.6 avg.

Kicking: Brian Kelly, 10-13 FG, 31-32 PAT, 61 pts.

Tackles: Randy Arnold, 88 tot., 54 solo

Sacks: Demetrios Walker, 2 sacks; Devarick Scandrett, 2 sack

Interceptions: Tony Sutton, 3 for 14 yds.

Kickoff returns: Kelvin German, 12 ret., 15.8 avg.

Punt returns: Kerry Wright, 8 ret., 5.8 avg.


OFFENSE: Jonathan Barry-OG, David Coy-OL, Glen Elarbee-C, Kevin Pascoe-OG, Jonathan Proby-OT, Dwone Hicks-RB, ReShard Lee-RB, Tyrone Calico-WR, David Youell-WR, Avery Hatten-FB
DEFENSE: Sheldon Durham-LB, Louis Kemp-LB, Kareem Bland-LB, Curtis Daniely-DT, Sam Smith-DE

written by Collin Mickle

Although Middle Tennessee struggled to a disappointing 4-8 record in 2002, very little blame falls on the Blue Raiders' offense. Stocked with experienced stars like Dwone Hicks and Tyrone Calico, the MTSU attack finished third in the Sun Belt conference in total offense. In 2003, the challenge will lie in replacing Hicks, Calico, and a host of (less-touted) departed players.

At quarterback, former juco transfer Andrico Hines returns. Hines, a better athlete than he is a passer, struggled when called upon to carry the team through the air. However, the 6-2 senior was impressive in spring drills, and should pair an improved grasp of the offense with his still-sharp running skills. Hines' improvement is vital to the Blue Raiders, who will focus more of their offense around his abilities this season.

Although the interior offensive line faces a rebuilding process (see below), the Blue Raiders do boast a solid pair of tackles. Senior Brandon Westbrook, a first-team All-Conference pick for the second straight season in 2002, is the left tackle. Westbrook has started all 31 games he has played at MTSU, and could be the best offensive lineman in the school's history. The right tackle will be junior Julius Grant, who closed last season as the starter at the position.

The interior offensive line will be the Blue Raiders' biggest weakness in 2003. The departure of all three starters, including second-team All-Conference center Glen Elarbee, opens three holes inside. Senior Josh Willoughby steps right in at right guard, where he started six games in place of injured starter Kevin Pascoe. Inexperienced sophomore Shavaskey Branch will replace Elarbee at center, and junior Bill Brasch will move to right guard after spending '02 as the top reserve at center. These guys could wind up shining by season's end, but the growing process will be painful for at least a few games.

The wide receiver position, vitally important in head coach Andy McCollum's spread offense, should be a position of strength. Three players who started at least three 2002 games return to help fill the shoes of departed standouts Calico and David Youell. Sophomore Chris Henry, their top returning snarler, will likely see the bulk of his playing time in the slot. The outside positions should be filled well by senior Wardell Alsup and junior Kerry Wright, each of whom started six 2002 games. Junior Hashem Joyner should hold off sophomores Pierre Ingram and Sam Williams for the fourth starting spot. Depth here will provide Hines with freshly rotated targets and athletic YAC-type receivers who need only be found and hit to have impact.

With the departure of standout running back Hicks and senior backup ReShard Lee, the starting running back job falls to senior running back Don Calloway. The former Georgia Player of the Year had a solid spring, and will enter the fall as the starter. Despite an undersized frame (only 5-6), Calloway runs with a physical, churning style, and is quick enough to make tacklers miss so as to then break off long runs. A pair of second-year players, sophomore speedster Kelvin German and redshirt freshman slasher Kevin Davis, will see time behind Calloway and could challenge for the starting position. Again, depth here could result in a running back-by-committee scenario that would pay dividends by season's end.


QB Andrico Hines


Returning Starters in bold
QB Andrico Hines-Sr Josh Harris-So
TB Don Calloway-Sr Kelvin German-So / Nick McAfee-Jr (FB)
WR Wardell Alsup-Sr Pierre Ingram-Fr
WR Chris Henry-So Sam Williams-Fr
WR Hashem Joyner-Jr Tommy Manus-Jr
WR Kerry Wright-Jr Pedro Holiday-Jr
OT Brandon Westbrook-Sr Willie Hall-Fr
OG Bill Brasch-Jr Doug Waller-Sr
C Shavaskey Brown-So Seth Grabo-So
OG Josh Willoughby-Sr Joe Evilsizer-Jr
OT Julius Gant-Jr Germayle Franklin-Fr
K Brian Kelly-Sr Paul Wheeler-So



written by Collin Mickle

The Blue Raiders return eight defensive starters, including seven seniors. After an inconsistent showing, the increased experience should likely result in an improved 2003 performance. The strongest segment of the defense should be the secondary, which returns all five starters for defensive coordinator Steve Davis' distinctive 3-3-5 set. Cornerbacks Tony Sutton and Muhammad Rashada are the unit's top playmakers (three INTs each). Free safety Will Martin finished third on the team with 78 tackles, while weak safety Brandon Lynch added 75 stops, including a team-best 7.5 tackles for loss. Strong safety Michael Woods entered last season as the starter, but was replaced for the final six games by now-departed senior Kareem Bland. But this group allowed a 61.4% completion rate and a 140.25 pass efficiency rating for opposing QBs, numbers a far cry from boasting any stop-ability. Experience needs to pay off immediate dividends for this group to turn around its quality of play.

The linebacking corps also returns largely intact. Senior middle linebacker Randy Arnold, the top returning tackler, has started 20 games in his MTSU career, including all but one in 2002. Arnold is the leader of the defense on and off the field, with the responsibility of making defensive play-calls and recognizing/verbalizing offensive formations. Senior right outside linebacker Kenny Edwards, a former juco transfer, started five 2002 games at the position. Sophomore left outside linebacker Dennis Burke is one of only two new starters. Burke played in all 12 games, mostly on special teams. This spring, he made the move from middle linebacker - where he backed up Arnold in 2002 - to the outside.

The defense's only weak point should be the line. The Blue Raiders are experienced, yet young and undersized up front. Junior Jerry Vanderpool started eight games last season before being benched for senior Samuel Smith. Vanderpool has played both tackle and end in his MTSU career, but appears set at end (for now, save unexpected injuries). At right end, sophomore Devarick Scandrett finished spring drills as the starter. Scandrett played in all 12 games in 2002 as a true freshman, finishing with 11 tackles. The 6-4, 240-pounder could be a revelation with the increased opportunities that come with an elevation to the starting lineup. Finally, defensive tackle Jeff Littlejohn, who came on late to seize the starting job, will remain the starter in the middle. Playing defensive tackle in the 3-3 is a thankless, draining task, but the 330-pound Littlejohn is a durable and physical enough player to handle it. The trio of Littlejohn, Vanderpool, and Scandrett will be expected to improve the Blue Raiders' anemic pass rush, which mustered a conference-worst 13 sacks in 2002.


LB Randy Arnold


Returning Starters in bold
DE Jerry Vanderpool-Jr Demetrios Walker-Sr
DT Jeff Littlejohn-So Thomas Johnson-Jr
DE Devarick Scandrett-So Dominic Jones-Sr
LB Dennis Burke-So Joey Montalbano-Sr
MLB Randy Arnold-Sr Alvin Fite-Jr
LB Kenny Edwards-Sr Jonathan Bonner-So
CB Tony Sutton-Sr Aaron Pitts-Sr
CB Muhammad Rashada-Sr Kabote Sikyala-Sr
WS Brandon Lynch-Sr Kevin Copeland-So
SS Michael Woods-Sr Chris Hough-Jr
FS Will Martin-Sr Chris Johnson-Sr
P Robert Billings-Sr Colby Smith-Fr




Almost every significant specialist returns for the Blue Raiders, who welcome back senior punter Robert Billings, senior placekicker Brian Kelly, and sophomore kick returners Kelvin German and Chris Henry.

Billings, one of the Sun Belt's top punters, averaged 42.6 yards per (18 pinned inside opponent's 20). Kelly was the conference's most accurate kicker, making 10-of-13 FGAs, including 4-of-5 from 40+ yards.

Return men German and Henry will have increased roles on offense in 2003, which could impact their special teams production. Several young players are waiting in the wings for any opportunity. Possible kick and punt returners include redshirt freshman Kevin Davis and sophomores Pierre Ingram and Sam Williams, along with German and Henry.

The MTSU coverage teams should again be solid after leading the conference in kickoff coverage in 2002. With stability on defense, the already-seasoned special teams contributors can remain on coverage squads, rather than moving up the depth chart and forcing raw players into special teams responsibilities. This ostensibly bodes well for many dimensions of their overall play.