Herd Polishes Offense, Defense In Mock Game

When you have company coming, you clean the house and polish the good silver in getting ready. Saturday, the Thundering Herd polished the offense and the defense as they hope to clean the house known as "The Joan" next Saturday when the Troy Trojans come to town for the opening game of the 2004 season. Marshall will try to get off to a great start, unlike Saturday, and the Thundering Herd will try to sweep the men of Troy out of Joan C. Edwards Stadium next week at 4;30 p.m.

Bob Pruett was not thrilled with the early effort of his team, even restarting the first quarter after dressing the first team down at half. Before the scrimmage, Pruett was glad to be in "game week" at last. "Well, it is exciting we are finally getting ready to play a game," said Pruett. "Troy has some new additions, especially a new freshman quarterback who will add some sprint option to their game. We just got to keep working, get healthy and have a big game. We have pretty good experience everywhere."

The mock game is a scrimmage where every down is a situational down and distance. First and ten at the 20-yard line might be followed by second and ten, despite a nice gain by the offensive unit. Both the first team offense and defense wore green jerseys today, as they will in next week's game. Marshall coaches wore headsets, the clock ran during the practice and the 25-second clock was used for the offensive units. The hottest day of all August camp, easily above 100 degrees on the field, may have contributed to the slow start.

There were good plays by the experienced Herd players. Earl Charles rushed nine times for 67 yards and scored two four yard touchdowns. Donte' Newsome also contributed eight carries for 43 yards and two scores. Quarterback Stan Hill sat out to rest his elbow, but Graham Gochneaur and Bernard Morris were very sharp with the first offense. Gochneaur was 11-of-14 passing, throwing only one interceptions and accounting for 74 yards and four passing touchdowns. Morris was nearly as sharp, hitting 8-of-12 for 103 yards and two passing touchdowns, including a beautiful 37-yard strike to receiver Brad Bates in the second quarter. Bates caught four passes for 62 yards and two scores, the other a four yard pass from Gochneaur.Nate Manns caught one pass for a 28 yard gain. The tight ends were in the action as well as Joe Diefel caught two passes for 17 yards and one touchdown while Jeff Mullins had one catch that went for a score.

Newcomers were also very good during the action on the scorching hot turf on the James F. Edwards Field. Freshman receiver Emanuel Spann caught a team-best six passes for 38 yards, including two touchdowns from Morris and Gochneaur. Freshman running back Ahmad Bradshaw was sensational, taking a punt return 88-yards for a score and rushing for two more touchdowns with seven carries for 56 yards. Fellow frosh Shawn Lauzon caught two passes for 62 yards, including a 49-yard fake punt pass from Ian O'Connor that seemed headed for a score until the referees blew the play dead down near the 10-yard line. As a matter of fact, O'Connor was the best percentage passer of the day, also throwing for 27 yards to tight end Matt Morris early in the scrimmage on another fake punt. Morris did injury his shoulder on the play and is uncertain for this weekend.

The Herd defense, however, had its share of stars. Backup linebacker Adam Lee led the second team defense with five tackles and deflected two passes. The second team was so good, especially on defense, they were let out of conditioning after practice. On the first team, safety Lonnie McCowan and linebackers Kevin Atkins and Matt Couch had four tackles each. McCowan had two sacks as well while Atkins added one sack and Couch had an interception. Other Herd defenders with good days were tackle Roger Garrett, leading all defenders with 2.5 sacks, a tackle-for-loss and three other tackles; ends Jamus Martin and Jon Goddard (who also broke up a pass), who each had three tackles and 1.5 sacks; corners Willie Smith and Roberto Terrell, who each had an interception and one tackle; tackles Reggie Hayes (tackle, sack and tackle-for-loss) and Jamaal Whyce (three tackles and a sack) and Floyd Wright (tackle-for-loss, sack and fumble recovery); and safety Curtis Keyes, who had three tackles and an interception.

On special teams, Bradshaw also had a 27 yard kickoff return while Anthony Hayes returned a kick 13 yards. Hayes had an eight year punt return while Spann returned a punt six yards. Freshman Marty Biagi punted five times for a 38.6 yard per punt average while O'Connor's only punt was a 47 yard beauty. O'Connor was perfect on extra-points but missed a 50-yard field goal attempt short; Biagi hit a 28-yard field goal; and freshman Danny Urrego missed a 39-yard field goal attempt to the left.

Marshall takes off Sunday and returns to practice Monday in "Game Week" mode, beginning with a 6:30 p.m. practice on Monday. Events for fans this week include the Quarterback Club meeting at the Radisson Hotel 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and the first Bob Pruett Call-In Show from Gino's on Fifth Avenue in Huntington on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Those shows can be heard on WRVC 930 AM, WDGG "The Dawg" 93.7 FM and the ISP Sports Network.

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