In fact, the first team defense was responsible for the first big play of the day on the first play of the game. Senior linebacker Dionte' Wilson stepped in front of freshman quarterback Bernard Morris' first pass of the day and returned the ball 47 yards for the Green, although the first team offense was stuffed at the 19-yard line and ended up missing a 39 yard field-goal of the foot of Nick Kelly.
"This is by far the fastest defensive football team we've had," Marshall coach Bob Pruett said. "I'm pleased with what we're doing."
Tremel Guillory tried to elude the grasp of Geremy Rodamer during the first half of the Green-White scrimmage.
Later in the first quarter, senior end Jonathan Goddard picked up one of his two sacks (for minus eight yards) when he "downed" Morris in the White end zone for the first points of the game with a safety, coming at the 1:27 mark of the first quarter, and giving the Green a 2-0 lead. Sophomore Ian O'Connor added the only other points of the first half when he drilled a 27 yard field goal with 12:30 to play in the second quarter and gave the Green a baseball-like 5-0 lead at the half.
The first team defense picked up right where they left off in the second half when sophomore strong safety Curtis Keyes knifed through untouched and blocked O'Connor's punt (punting for both squads) and senior corner Roberto Terrell dove on the loose ball in the end zone for a 12-0 lead, following O'Connor's point-after-touchdown.
Leading the Green defense was senior middle linebacker Kevin Atkins with six tackles, including three in a row at the one-yard line to turn away a White scoring opportunity. Senior defensive end Jamus Martin recorded five tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one sack while senior tackle Jamaal Whyce, back from a season-ending knee injury in the Miami game, had four stops, one t-f-l and one sack for minus six yards. White team quarterbacks Morris and Tim Bessolo were sacked seven times, including five on freshman transfer from Fresno State, Bessolo, who did hit two of seven passes for 29 yards, and held the White team to minus-14 yards rushing on 21 carries. The score would have been worse, but a 65-yard interception for touchdown by senior cornerback Renaldo Williams, playing for injured starter Willie Smith for much of the game, because the defensive line jumped offside on the play.
QB Jimmy Skinner looked downfield during the Green-White scrimmage on Saturday at Edwards Stadium.
The White defense was nearly as strong as the first team. They sacked Jimmy Skinner four times for minus-22 yards and limited the Green team to only 33 yards rushing on 20 carries, led by Tank Tunstall with 17 yards in six carries on the ground. The second team defenders were led by junior linebacker Dennis Thornton, who recorded five tackles, two tackles-for-loss for minus-11 yards, broke up a pass and had one sack. Sophomore free safety Geremy Rodamer added four tackles and a sack while junior linebacker Carlos Morgan had a sack and three tackles. Junior strong safety Chris Royal added a 28-yard interception to a 35-yard kickoff return for the White.
The Green offense was able to move the ball, but not score, behind sophomore quarterback Jimmy Skinner. He hit on 9-of-19 passes for 80 yards and one interception and completed his first three passes, but had little running game to take pressure off the passing attack, except for the running of receivers like senior Tremel Guillory (1-for-9 yards) and sophomore Hiram Moore (1-for-17 yards).
"The two veteran quarterbacks were injured, and we need to bring the younger guys along," Marshall coach Bob Pruett said. "I thought that they got some really good work today." Starting QB Stan Hill was held out of the scrimmage, while backup Graham Gochneaur was out due to a jammed finger suffered in practice when his throwing hand made contact with a helmet after a pass earlier in the week.
"We started making better reads and moving down field," Skinner said. "We did some good things. I think we had more good than bad."
Morris heated up when he was moved to the Green team, after completing just 4-of-10 for the White team for 33 yards and the interception. With about seven minutes to play, Morris hit 6-foot, 6-inch freshman receiver Shawn Lauzon with the long offensive play of the day, a 40-yard completion to move the Green team to the White's 19-yard line.
"I came out with a slow start" Morris said. "The [number] one defense, they're good and know what they're doing."
Hiram Moore hauled in this TD pass from QB Bernard Morris to end the scrimmage.
After a five yard dump pass to junior Jeff Mullins, Morris found junior wide out Wilbur Hargrove on a perfectly-thrown fade pattern for a 14-yard score and a 19-0 Green lead, after Kelly hit the point-after. Morris would get one more chance with 2:30 to play, but this two-minute drill would be run with the clock not stopping as the Herd was wrapping up the game. Morris missed on his first two throws, but called the play at the line and hit Lauzon for six yards. On fourth-and-four, he found Guillory on a post pattern across the middle for 15 more yards. A swing pass to junior running back Donte' Newsome put the Herd at the 12-yard line and Morris took time with :03 to play.
On the last play of the scrimmage, the walk-on quarterback from Orlando, Florida (who earned a scholarship in January for his good play on the scout team last fall) found hometown favorite Hiram Moore, for a 12-yard score to end the scrimmage at 25-14 (* score explantion: we note Pruett "awarded, on head coach's prerogative" the White team 14 points after the blocked punt score by the Green, so the "HerdVision" scoreboard actually showed 25-14 for the Green at the end of the scrimmage while, for some reason, the smaller scoreboard on the Shewey Athletic Center showed 25-19 as the Herd left the field).
"I just knew Hiram was going to be open," Morris said of the final touchdown. "He has great hands, and if you put it anywhere around him, he's going to catch it."
Moore felt that the catch gave him some momentum heading into summer drills. "It gives me some momentum for the summer time, so I work hard," Moore added.
"We're really pleased with the way he (Morris) and Jimmy (Skinner) have come along," Pruett added.
Morris finished the game a combined 11-of-21 for 132 yards and two scores. Moore caught three passes for 26 yards and a touchdown and Lauzon had three receptions for 54 yards. Guillory caught four balls for 51 yards, and returned a punt for 10 yards, while Hargrove had two pass receptions for 32 yards and a score. Freshman tight end Brian Shope rounded out the Green receiving with one catch for 13 yards.
Marshall will work on conditioning and grades through the next month of the semester at Marshall. The fall opener for 2004 is September 4 at 4:30 p.m. against Troy State at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium as Marshall plays the last season in the MAC before joining Conference USA for the 2005 season. At halftime, Pruett named the most improved players of the spring, selected by the MU coaching staff. On offense, quarterback Jimmy Skinner, coverted linebacker-to-running back Donte' Newsome and tight end Brian Shope were selected, while on defense Moriah Anderson, the starting free safety, backup middle linebacker Matt Couch and corner Renaldo Williams were the selections.
Green: Tunstalle 6-17, Moore 1-17, Guillory 1-9, Morris 1-5, Albin 1-5, Newsome 5-0, Skinner 4-(-20); Team 20-33.
White: Fitzgerald 3-11, Jones 2-3, West 3-(-2), Cabarrus 3-(-4), Johnson 8-(-9), B. Morris 2-(-14); Team 21-(-14).
Green: Skinner 19-9-1 for 80 yards, Morris 11-7-0 for 99 yards and two touchdowns; Team 30-16-1 for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
White: B. Morris 10-4-1 for 33 yards, Besselo 7-2-0 for 29 yards; Team 17-6-1 for 62 yards.
Green: Guillory 4-51, Lauzon 3-54, Moore 3-26 and touchdown, Hargrove 2-32 and touchdown, Shope 1-13, Newsome 1-7, Mullins 1-5.
White: Manns 2-29, Fitzgerald 1-14, M. Morris 1-9, Bates 1-7, West 1-3
O'Connor 10-395 yards, Average 39.5 yards per punt, Long 52, Inside 20-2 (@ 10-yard line and @8-yard line)
O'Connor 1-2, from 27 yards-good; from 52 yards-short.
Kelly 0-1, from 39 yards-wide right.
Guillory 1-10, T. Thomas 1-16.