So. Charleston Practice Delights Herd Fans

About 1,800 Marshall fans braved gloomy skies and soggy conditions to watch the Marshall football team practice at Oakes Field in South Charleston on Saturday. Marshall coach Bob Pruett didn't need him, but Heisman Trophy finalist Larry Fitzgerald was on the sidelines, watching his brother Marcus practice for The Herd...

"This is wonderful," Pruett summed up of the now-annual practice in South Charleston. "It's great to come up to South Charleston. They [players] get to see the fans and the fans get to see them."

While the slippery field took the edge off the drills -cautious footing was the order of the day- Marshall lined up for roughly 60 plays over a 2-hour span. In all, Pruett was happy with what he saw.

"I was pleased with a lot of things we did today. Offensively, we need to have more consistency and protect the ball a little better," Pruett added. "Defensively, I thought we weren't mentally as ready to play as I thought we could be."

Receiver Hiram Moore looked downfield as Moriah Anderson closed in for the tackle during Marshall's scrimmage at Oakes Field in South Charleston on Saturday.

Highlight of the practice occured during the final two-minute drill. Reserve quarterback Jimmy Skinner zinged a 14-yard TD pass to Wilbur Hargrove to end the practice on a high note. " Jimmy did a good job in the 2-minute drill, took us down and scored," Pruett noted.

Starting QB Stan Hill sat out the practice, with Skinner, Bernard Morris, and Graham Gochneaur taking over the QB duties.

"Last year, I was still getting my feet wet a little bit," Gochneaur compared 2003 to this year. "End of spring this's more about taking care of business and making sure everybody goes into the season with the correct attitude. We're going out expecting to win every game, because we have that kind of talent coming back."

QB Bernard Morris threw downfield, as QB Stan Hill watched in the background.

QB Bernard Morris showed a better grasp of the Marshall offensive package. The 6-4, 200 pound redshirt freshman exhibited his running abilities, and completed a few passes in live action drills.

"Me and Jimmy Skinner are the young guys, and it was great work for us," Morris said of the practice in South Charleston. "I'm getting more reps now, and it's becoming a bit easier."

On the defensive side of the ball, end Marcus Hairston noted that changing from a 4-6 scheme to a new-ish 4-3 one has been an easier transition with the senior-laden unit.

"We're a little bit smarter than we were a year ago, because we have more seniors," Hairston said afterwards. "Even though we've changed up from the 4-6 to the 4-3, we still run some similar things."

Heisman Trophy finalist Larry Fitzgerald was on the sidelines, signing autographs and watching his brother Marcus practice for The Herd.

"We're developing some depth behind the three seniors with Noel and Morgan at the Sam linebacker, and Couch at the Mike linebacker and Thornton at the Will linebacker," added assistant coach Mark Gale.

Even Heisman Trophy finalist Larry Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh stopped by to watch the Marshall practice. Fitzgerald's brother Marcus is a freshman running back for The Herd, and Larry's size caught the eye of Pruett.

"He's a big guy. I'd like to see him stay in another year, and transfer [to Marshall]," Pruett joked after the scrimmage.

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