Story by Blake Sandlin, Assistant Sports Editor
From tailgating to fat-suit battles, and a lot of football in between, Murray State football hosted its 2017 spring game on Friday.
Dubbed the “Fastest Friday in Kentucky,” the Racers’ football team competed in fast-paced action and hosted activities for fans as part of their final showing for the spring season.
“Everybody always asks why we call it the fastest Friday in Kentucky,” Murray State Head Coach Mitch Stewart said. “We just ran 98 plays in the span of an hour and 42 minutes, plus did special teams, plus did all of the games for the fans and the greek organizations.”
The Racers separated into blue and white teams to showcase a variety of sets and lineups. The defense came away with a 71-57 victory after receiving points from a variety of different drills and kicking competitions.
Stewart encouraged Murray State students to come out in big numbers to pack the arena on Friday. For an added incentive, the program allowed students and Greek organizations to tailgate inside of Roy Stewart Stadium, an idea that Aaron Martin, freshman from Benton, Kentucky, said helped get more fans involved.
“You know a lot of times we’re stuck outside of the stadium if we’re tailgating and it’s harder to get guys to come out,” Martin said. “If we’re allowed to start earlier and we have different competitions and stuff that we have going on throughout the day, then it encourages a lot more people to come out and have a good time.”
Stewart said having the support of the students made for a successful and entertaining spring game, not just for the program, but for him.
“Hats off to those guys. I mean they were awesome today,” Stewart said. “I mean we dressed them up in fat suits and let them run into each other. I mean it was a heck of a time. I had a good time. I don’t know if anyone else did, don’t really care, because I had a blast.”
As the team wraps up their spring football season, Stewart commended his team on making big strides. The most important, he said, was less emphasis on specific sets and plays and more on the team’s overall fundamentals.
“We held back on the schemes and held back on the install and really got good at fundamentals,” Stewart said. “I think that’s the biggest thing I’m happy about is just the improvement we had over the spring.”
The team is still adjusting to life without quarterback K.D. Humphries, who graduated last year.
From redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Birse to freshman quarterback, Preston Rice, the Racers have a lot of depth to help fill Humphries’ void, but Stewart said he is still undecided on who will secure the starting position.
“I’ve got the best five [quarterbacks] collectively since I’ve ever been here,” Stewart said. “All of them can go out there and they’re not going to lose you a game. The trick to it is that I’ve got to find the one. I’ve got to find the one that’s consistent on a day-to-day basis, on a practice basis, and I’ve got to find the one that can win you the game.”
On the other side of the ball, the Racers are sure to make big strides on the defensive end after graduating only three rotation players last year. New pickups from junior defensive backs Rico McGraw and Kenney Wooten have the Racers revitalized not only on the field, but off it, too.
“This defense has made tremendous strides,” senior linebacker Lamont Crittendon said. “As far as the chemistry, like not even the Xs and Os, we’re definitely working together. We’re returning pretty much everybody, and then we added people like Kenney Wooten, who makes a big difference on our defense.”
— Matthew Bodon (@mbodon4) April 29, 2017