Breaking down Murray State

By Christopher Loggins

Sports Editor Christopher Loggins breaks down the key players for the Racers as the Huskies look to improve to 2-0 on the year. NIU will host Murray State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Huskies Stadium.



Junior quarterback KD Humphries has made great strides as the starter for the Racers. In 2014, Humphries started 10 games, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing for 3,488 yards. He tossed 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, averaging 290 passing yards per game. Humphries also managed to finish the season with seven rushing touchdowns, bringing his total on the year to 34. He led the FCS with 26.5 completions per game and had five games of 300 yards or more. The Racers work with a balanced pass-and-run attack, but Humphries can be the force that drives the team to the promised land.

Running Back

In 2014, junior running back Roman Clay didn’t see much action, running the ball only 29 times but taking advantage of his opportunities, rushing for 152 yards. His highest total in a game all season was only 59 yards, and he also caught two passes. In the first game of the 2015 season, Clay proved to be a valuable starting running back, running for a career-high 96 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry, helping lead the Racers to a big game-one win.

Wide Receiver

Senior receiver Jeremy Harness started in all 12 games for Murray State in 2014, hauling in 81 catches for 907 yards and six touchdowns. In his first game this season, Harness continued to put up high numbers, catching seven balls for 156 yards and three touchdowns, including a 73-yard reception from quarterback KD Humphries. Standing at only 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, Harness has continued to be a viable speed threat for the Racers and has an opportunity to break free for lots of big plays against the Huskies if he isn’t covered well.

Offensive Line

The Racers offensive line has helped both in the running and passing game. Behind the offensive line, Murray State’s rushing attack averaged 4.7 yards per carry, running for over 1600 yards and posting 17 touchdowns. The run game also averaged 141 yards per game. The line gave up 23 sacks on the year, but helped the pass attack as it threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns on the year. If the line can create valuable time for quarterback KD Humphries, the Racers can create trouble for the Huskies’ secondary.


Defensive Line

Murray State’s defensive line struggled in the running game in 2014. The line gave up 37 rushing touchdowns on the year, over twice the amount the offense scored. They also gave up over 2900 yards. The Huskies, a team that relies heavily on rushing success, has an opportunity to attack the Racers on the ground and gain a great advantage. Murray State was able to pick up 23 sacks on the year, and managed to give up only 270 pass yards per game. If the Racers’ defensive line can break free and cause trouble for Huskies quarterback Drew Hare, they can change the game in a multitude of ways.


Junior linebacker Jonathan Jackson played in 11 games in 2014, picking up 134 tackles and two-and-a-half sacks. Jackson also recovered a fumble on the year. Standing at 5-foot-11 and 211 pounds, Jackson has the ability to move around the field and make a ton of impact plays. He ranked eighth in the nation last year with 6.1 tackles per game and was named to the 2015 preseason All-OVC team. Jackson has proved that he can make great plays both before and after the line of scrimmage.


Defensive back DeQuinten Spraggins transferred to Murray State after two years at Northeast Mississippi Community College. Spraggins played his first year for the Racers in 2014, starting the final nine games of the season. Spraggins picked up 74 tackles on the year, two interceptions, four pass breakups and 1.5 sacks. Standing at 6-foot-2, Spraggins is just as tall as many receivers and can be tough to pass on in the secondary. Different matchups can be the key to taking him out of the game, as he has the ability to bother opposing receivers, regardless of their height. Avoiding Spraggins at all costs can be instrumental in how the game plays out.

Special Terms

Kicker Carson Griefenkamp appeared in all 12 games last year, going 11-16 on field goal attempts and 48-52 on PATs. Griefenkemp averaged 58.3 yards on kickoffs and had a career high in touchbacks with 20. Senior running back Pokey Harris returned the majority of kicks for the Racers, averaging 28.8 yards and scoring three touchdowns. His longest on the season was 100 yards. Janawski Davis returned punts on the season, averaging 11.6 per return and returning two for touchdowns.