Darius Watts and Josh Davis returned to a practice that saw the MU Stadium speakers cranked up with "Rocky Top" and other fight songs to simulate the crowd noise at Marshall Stadium on opening night and September 12 verses Toledo and Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee, on September 6, when the Herd battles the Volunteers in a first-ever meeting. The Marshall second-team defenders had no more luck than most defenders in the Mid-American Conference in stopping either player. Watts made a one-handed catch to start 11-on-11, then made a pretty over the shoulder catch between two defenders on a Stan Hill fade pattern. Davis also made a leaping catch and Brad Bates, who moved up to number one at the z-receiver on the basis of Saturday's seven catches for 114 yards and one touchdown (and another from 34-yards out called back on a holding penalty), also was on the end of many Hill tosses. Bates scored a touchdown on a 10-play, 60 yard drive in team that saw Hill miss only one receiver in the drive.
"What I really liked was the progress of our young receivers (on Saturday)," said Pruett. "I like the way Stan is moving the team, without the top running backs and receivers." Not only did Watts and Davis return Monday, so did Earl Charles and Tank Tunstalle at running back. Butchie Wallace continues to nurse a hand injury, while James Johnson has missed time with the flu.
The Herd first defensive unit continued to frustrate the second offense, with Jonathan Goddard batting down yet another pass in practice. Chris Royal picked off Graham Gochneaur later in practice. One scary moment occured in seven-on-seven when Jamus Martin landed on his right elbow and came up in great pain. After a trip to the training room, he returned to practice only to run the steps in the stadium with Wallace, Ivan Clark, Marcus Hairston and Dennis Thorton. The rest of the team was practicing. Damarcus Thomas was stung micway through practice, but returned later as well.
Marshall will go at 4:30 p.m. today, then at 4:30 on Tuesday. The team will scrimmage Wednesday. Do not forget, coming up Wednesday is the Sixth Annual "Paint the Capital City Green" at the Marriott Suites in Charleston, at 6:00 p.m. Thursday will be the Women's Coaching Clinic at Marshall Stadium with the MU football staff and Friday, the Coaches Caravan will travel to Kelly's Tavern, Tascali's and R.T. Champs Sports Bar, starting at 6:00 p.m. and sponsored by Nitro Dodge and Kindred Communications. See you at all these Herd events.