|« NCAA, OVC rules TTU-Lane College stats will not count in their tallies||Cal Poly athletic director Alison Cone to retire in December »|
Despite record, Hatcher creating hope for Racers
The record book is clear.
The reality is much different.
The record book says the Murray State Racers are 0-3, the first time MSU has started 0-3 since 1988.
But how much different is everything around Murray State Racer football?
You do the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” about the Racers in their first season under new coach Chris Hatcher and the Racers could easily be 2-1 entering Saturday’s Ohio Valley Conference contest with UT-Martin with a record of 2-1, perfect against FCS competition.
But they were not able to put together “put away” scores against Southeast Missouri and Central Arkansas and lost both - including Saturday’s visit to the Bears where Murray State was a field goal block away from winning its first non-conference road game.
“Against SEMO, we played 45 minutes of football,” Hatcher said on Monday. “Saturday night, we played 57 minutes of football.”
It takes 60. But the Racers are getting better - literally with every snap of the ball.
Hatcher and his staff has kept his team competitive in their first two FCS contests despite playing a quarterback who is gutting it out on one leg, losing their three best wide receivers before a down was played and a defense who missed more tackles in the first two games than good defenses miss all year.
And they’ve kept a collection of new players and returnees (many who almost were ready to quit football entirely) getting better every game and molding into a unit that could put a scare into the rest of the league.
The Racers get ready to host UT-Martin Saturday.
“This week is an important week for us. It’s a chance for us to get back in the hunt for the OVC title,” Hatcher said Monday. “And I know that it sounds crazy, but I think we’ve got a good football team. And I think if we will do the little things and start believing and get a few breaks go our way - that good things will happen.”
I don’t think the Racers are ready to compete for a league title anytime soon, but they may have a lot to say about who does win the league title. Getting Marcus Harris back will help the offense and you could make an argument if he had played the last two games, the Racers would be 2-1.
Regardless of the record, Hatcher has brought back excitement about Racer football. He’s done all the work in getting out around the region, connecting with high school coaches and trying to get excitement back in Racer football.
The home opener crowd against Southeast Missouri was the best since Homecoming in 2002. Murray State officials are not expecting much of a drop off from the 7,014 - and if UT-Martin, coming off one of their best wins in recent years - brings any crowd at all and coupled with MSU Family Weekend - Saturday’s crowd could even be better. Its clear that after not having a winning season since 2004, Racer Nation is ready and willing to embrace any sign of football success.
And what happens when Hatcher and the Racers win - and his track record says they will - could really be exciting. And you get the feeling winning may come quicker than anyone imagined when he took over in December.
By David Ramey, The Examiner