The kicking game got the practice off to a great start, as MU's various kickers converted on better than 20 of 25 kicks. Nick Kelly hit twice on two kicks from over 45-yards away and one of the misses on the day was by Ian O'Connor, also from better than 45 yards away.
Coach Mark McHale was after the "big'uns" in a running drill by giving it to the offensive line. "There sure is a lot of pass blocking going on," said McHale, "but this is a run block drill." The physical part is there for the most part, however, and Coach Bill Wilt said the muscle the players need to work most of all is the brain.
"It comes downs to what is between their ears," said Wilt. "What we get out of practice is what we put into it, mentally and physically. Our talent and experience are all good, if they are utilized and that's what it boils down to." Wilt and the coaching staff know what awaits the H erd in the month of September's games. "We've got three teams right out of the gate (Troy, Ohio State and Georgia) who will run it right at us. We've got to have our run defense in place, learning now how to fight through the double-teams that are coming," said Wilt.
In Wilt's estimation, Marshall has got to quit repeating last year's game problems in this year's practices. "We cannot get better unless we quit having a good practice, then an average practice, a good practice followed by an average practice. We have got to go hard every workout." His sentiment was echoed by Herd tight end Jeff Mullins. "I think it is all mental and we can handle those problems," said Mullens. "Everybody's legs are tired and sore and you've got to push through that, just like you have to in the fourth quarter of games. No one gets to quit at the end of the third quarter."
Mullens is also excited by the front line of the Herd. "I think we are more confident up front, we are coming together rapidly. I think we looked better on the first day of fall camp than we did all spring and this will help us avoid last year's up-and-down season, being ahead early." The offensive line saw Josh Blakey running ahead of Seth Cook at right tackle today. Ond alignment many on-lookers were excited about, however, was true freshman Doug Legursky at center and Miami transfer Zac Elcess at right tackle (along with Nate Griffin-LT; Toby Bullock-LG; and Ryan Baynes-RG).
Players with a good day included defensive tackle Roger Garrett. He was jumped by a coach early in drills, then was nearly unstopable the rest of the run drill with three tackles-for-loss in the backfield. Marcus Hairston followed a t-f-l by being "pancaked" by Legursky in the same drill. New linebacker Jason Kaminski was also in the backfield for two tackles. Later in the team drill, Roberto Terrell recorded a pretty pass-broken-up versus Josh Davis on a tight spiral by Stan Hill. Reggie Hayes had a fumble recovery in team and Garrett and Dennis Thornton, for about the third day in a row, were in the backfield throughout the drill.
Offensively, Hill hit Earl Charles on a nice swing pass. Bernard Morris stuck to junior college transfer Mandell Smith on a couple of plays and later hit Marcus Fitzgerald for a 10-yard gain on a crossing route. Graham Gochneaur kept it going with a 10-yard out to Shawn Lauzon and the Qbs stayed hot, burning the defense for seven of the first eight passes in "7-vs.-7" drills (linebackers and defensive backs only versus offensive skill players). When Hill and Davis got together on a 50-plus-yard bomb, coach Pruett was heard telling the NFL scouts, "See what I'm telling you about number 82." Ahmad Bradshaw was running well again and Will Albin ripped off a 20-yard gain in "1's-vs.-1's" later in practice. Matt Couch forgot about only having shorts on and made a number of take-downs in a "thud" only day. Moriah Anderson ended practice with an interception of Hill.
Brad Bates and Anderson were full go today, as was Garrett. Players who returned to action today (wearing "gold" or "orange") included J.T. Rembert (with a cast on his left hand, protecting a broken finger); Brian Shope at tight end; offensive lineman David Ziegler; running backs Tank Tunstalle, Gerwin Williams and Donte' Newsome; Curtis Keyes at safety; defensive lineman Colin Kelly; and wide receiver Tremel Guillory. Still in "blue," no contact jerseys were Jimmy Tyson, Travis Noel, Maurice Kitchens, Renaldo Williams, Jamall Sanders, Nate Howard and Matt Morris, who pulled his groin slightly. Floyd Wright and Ben Gum are still waiting on paper work to clear them to practice while defensive backs James Brown, number 10 in white, and Jeremy Frazie, number 48 in white, have rejoined the squad after being on the roster in the spring. Brown is a junior from Dean Junior College and Frazie is a transfer from I-AA Morehead State University. At least six more players from spring are expected to re-join Herd next Monday when school starts (number/name/position/height/weight/class/hometown/High school):
23 Antoine Cabarrus RB 6-0 195 SO/FR-r Huntington, WV/Huntington
25 James Johnson RB 6-2 225 SR/JR Washington, D.C./H.D. Woodson (Pittsburgh)
29 Wes Romanello DB 6-0 182 SO/FR Lucasville, OH/Valley
30 Rusty Taylor WR 5-7 165 SO/FR-r Charleston, WV/Riverside
45 Uranius Johnson WR 6-0 175 JR/SO Brandywine, MD/Gwynn Park
59 David Bailey LB 5-10 242 FR/FR-t Huntington, WV/Huntington
Practice is Monday at 4:30 p.m. on the grass. Tuesday's single session is scheduled at 3:00 p.m., most likely on the grass. Don't forget, Wednesday night is "Paint The Capital Green" at the Charleston Embassy Suites, starting at 6:00 p.m. Call the Big Green for more info, 696-4661, or check out herdzone.com for details. Thursday night is the 16th annual "Women's Football Clinic" at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium on level BG. Saturday is the annual "Reverse Raffle" to benefit the Quarterback Club. Call the football office at 696-6464 for information. Also, the M-Club has an cookout scheduled at Edwards Stadium at 4:00 p.m., following practice, for all club members and guests. Call the M-Club Office, 696-3978, for details.