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September 14, 2008If you thought Middle Tennessee freshman wideout Malcolm Beyah was a brief flash in the pan after his sterling performances in his first two college games, consider yourself wrong.
Beyah's big play capability was on display again at Kentucky Saturday night and he's showing no signs of slowing down, which means the Blue Raider offense is looking more and more explosive overall.
As fall camp broke, Beyah and other newcomers in the unit were considered promising question marks, but still question marks.
After three games, three Beyah touchdowns, and 255 yards receiving, it's becoming increasingly clear that the true freshman from Chamblee (Ga.) is the real deal.
Against the Wildcats, Beyah teamed with Desmond Gee to dizzy the Kentucky defense with big play after big play.
Beyah caught the game's first pass for 18 yards and followed in the second quarter with an acrobatic catch-and-run for 52 yards when he leaped high over Kentucky cornerback Trevard Lindley to wrestle away the reception and then sprint down the sideline.
He struck again in the third quarter on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Craddock when he got open in space over the middle of the field and ran away from all pursuers.
Beyah tallied another 22-yard reception in the fourth quarter to try to jumpstart a game winning drive after a Lones Seiber field goal had pushed the Kentucky lead to 20-14.
For the season, Beyah now has five receptions of 20 yards or more and three catches of 40 yards or more.
His three touchdown receptions have averaged 40.3 yards.
Teamed with Gee, the Blue Raiders have two of the most explosive players in the Sun Belt and considerable more attack capability in the passing game than they had a year ago. The two of them combined are averaging 21.4 yards per catch.
It's been more than just Beyah and Gee that have sparked the aerial prowess though.
Four Blue Raiders have caught at least 11 passes through three games. Included in that group is another true freshman, Sancho McDonald, who has yet to show the kind of explosive playmaking ability that Beyah has but still has been a reliable target with 87 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Nine MT receivers have at least three receptions, including unit leader Patrick Honeycutt, who is still looking for a breakout game this season.
After Beyah got off to a hot start against Troy and Maryland, it was reasonable to expect defenses to start keying on him, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the first year burner has the tools to threaten any coverage and affect any game.
Considering he's been a part of an offense that has totaled nearly 300 yards passing per game against defenses ranked 7th (Troy), 24th (Kentucky), and 73rd (Maryland) in total defense, Blue Raider fans have every reason to be optimistic about the offense going forward.
The final nine opponents on the Blue Raider schedule have an average total defense rank of 76.2. The remaining six Sun Belt Conference opponents remaining on the schedule have an average total defense ranking of almost 95.
Add it all up and it means the offense may stay on an upward trend all season.
No small thanks to the explosiveness of a true freshman from Georgia that has announced his arrival with three straight big games.