"It helps you get used to not being able to hear each other, and just getting used to hand signals," said quarterback Byron Leftwich. And hand signals were the only means of communication Leftwich had at his disposal during the practice/scrimmage on Friday afternoon.
Trust us. It was loud.
Pruett is no stranger to practicing with the PA system blazing at Marshall Stadium. In '98, he practiced heavily with the volume turned up, in preparation for the Herd's opener at South Carolina that year. In '99, it was more of the same in advance of the season opener at Clemson. Marshall won both those contests on the road, so the preparation appears to have merit.
However, coach Bob Pruett took things one step further this year. Instead of just the PA system blaring a melange of university fight songs, he also had another audio system at turf level, blaring out the same group of songs, but not synched with the PA system. The resulting audio collision made for the most god-awful collection of sounds you have ever heard, turned up to can't-hear-a-thing levels.
Seeing as how Pruett was an assistant at Florida before coming to Marshall, he knows exactly how loud The Swamp will be next Saturday. So does quarterback Byron Leftwich.
"It'll be louder than this. Honestly," said Leftwich on a break between drills. "It'll probably be five times louder than this, where you can't even hear each other."
Players must now deal with noise from the PA system and from these speakers placed on the turf.
So, just like in previous years, Leftwich finds himself spending the last week of summer drills as if he is on the fifty yard line in front of 80,000+ fans. He's used to it, by now. "We've been in this type of situation before," Leftwich added. "When we were at South Carolina and Clemson, the ground shook sometimes out there."
This audio confusion stage is quickly becoming the signature finale in summer drills under Pruett. However, this year he has taken the sheer amount of noise one step further, into a zone where his players' ears are useless as weapons. They must depend on hand signals if plays are to be run correctly. So far, the players aren't having any troubles with it. According to Leftwich, they're actually doing quite well, thank you, despite not being able to hear anything at all for more than an hour every day.
"Like I said, we've done it before. This won't be the first time we've played in front of 85,000 people," Leftwich said. "That's the fun part of it, being able to go out there and practice this stuff."
"Football's back to fun again. In two-a-days, you don't like football too much. But now, it's back to fun because you're preparing to play somebody other than your own team."