Herd Making Progress In First Scrimmage: Day 12

In the first full scrimmage of the August practice session, folks began the day talking about who did not participate. By the end, they were raving about the Herd players who were getting it done. Stan Hill, Jamus Martin, Jonathan Goddard: Marshall fans are used to them looking good. But how about Klint Rose, Brad Bates, Tremel Guillory, Jason Schroeder and Travis Noel? These are some of the new stars after Saturday's "game" conditions, two-hour scrimmage.

Hill continued to put up the same big numbers as he did verses Miami in 2002 and in the spring game. The Herd's quarterback threw 25 times, completing 17 passes for 277 yards. He threw one interception and one pretty fade pattern to Brad Bates for a 25-yard touchdown. Bates caught seven passes for 114 yards, Schroeder had five for 95 yards and Guillory had four for 51 yards running with the first team in place of Darius Watts and Josh Davis.

"Yeah, we had a good day today," said Hill. "We're missing a couple of key players. We came out and showed we have a lot of depth, Tremel, Jason Schroeder and Brad Bates, Rader, they stepped up today. The line gave me plenty of time. The times I ran, I ran on my own I never felt any pressure. If we get everyone healthy, if we execute we'll be OK."

The running game was short Butchie Wallace, Earl Charles, Tank Tunstalle and James Johnson, but freshmen Will Albin and Michael West combined for 20 carries for 36 yards, with each scoring a touchdown. Hill chipped in three additional runs for 22 yards, giving the first team offense 58 yards rushing.

Nate McPeek talked about the running game after the scrimmage. "Anytime you can move the football with your second or third team backs, without Butchie, Earl, Tank, it's good," said McPeek. "You never know, those guys could be one play away from playing in a game. At times, we moved the ball well. We're coming together up front, with (Nate) Leslie and (Toby) Bullock rotating in there. We should have gotten a score on the first drive, we cannot make little mistakes down near the goal line. Personally, I played 20 or so plays without any pain today, so I feel good. We'll just come back and keep working."

Special teams are a key element for Marshall in 2003 and the early returns were excellent. Freshman punter Klint Rose punted four times for 185 yards, a very Curtis Head-like 46.3 yards per punts. Kickers Nick Kelly and Ian O'Conner were very deep on kickoffs, reaching the endline most kicks and on those kicks, Wilbur Hargrove had a 56-yard kickoff return, keyed by a Hiram Moore block later had a 49-yard return himself and Geremy Rodamer, Tremel Guillory and Moore did a good job of fielding and returning punts. The only sore point was field goals, as Ben Lewis missed from 27 yards, Kelly hit from 43-yards but missed from 34 and O'Conner was 0-2 from 43 and 34 yards. The big hit of the scrimmage came on a Damarcus Thomas kickoff return hit that stopped the runner dead in his tracks.

The young tackles on the second and third teams were clearly overmatched today by Martin (four/-26) and Goddard (2/-15), who had six sacks for minus 41 yards, Goddard adding a pass knocked down and Martin adding a tackle for loss. "It felt good to go at game speed today," said Martin, "and (the defense) did better than our first scrimmage. There was lots of intensity, guys out there competing for my job so I took it up a notch."

Other defenders with highlites included Willie Smith who picked a pass off and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown for the first unit off second team quarterback Jimmy Skinner (2-1-1, 7 yards). Donte Newsome picked off a Stan Hill pass near midfield for the second unit and true freshman Travis Noel picked off his fellow frosh Bernard Morris (4-1-1, 10 yards) and returned the interception for a 57-yard touchdown. Graham Gochneaur was the lone MU quarterback not to throw an interception (6-5-0, 60 yards).

Offensively, Clarence Stanfield added three receptions for 30 yards and Jason Rader, Michael West, Nate Manns, Matt Morris and Mike Nolan each had one catch, as did Hiran Moore and Wilbur Hargrove, who also rushed once for 10 yards.

Coach Bob Pruett was pleased, but still thinks the Herd can be better before the opener on August 30 with Hofstra. "We made progress today, we did not go backwards. But there is still a lot of work to do," said Pruett. The Herd will have a walk-through and review the video of the scrimmage on Sunday and return to the practice field at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning."

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