Day Three MU Football Spring Practice

Day three of Marshall football spring practice was the first at 7:00 a.m. and the first in full pads. The frozen tundra that was the artificial turf of the Joan C. Edwards Stadium led to slipping and sliding in the 28 degree temperatures, but new head coach Larry Kueck was very happy with the tempo and speed of the workout by his team at this early, chilly hour. "They really surprised me," said Kueck. "A morning practice in football is not a natural act."

"That's a non-natural act physically," continued Kueck, who became the interim head man for the Herd football program just six days ago when Bob Pruett surprised everyone with his retirement from coaching. "For the conditions, and when we started it was pretty slick, I thought they practiced hard. It will take them a few days. The whole thing about getting into football shape.

"The last period we had 25 plays scripted (for the team period) for 20 minutes and we quit at, what, 17 minutes. That's a great tempo, we want them to go full speed. We can't bring people to the ground, we don't have that many people out here. We'll have a lot of "thud" (contact, but no tackle) tempo," said Kueck. "We'll come out Wednesday, weather permitting, in shorts or sweats and shoulder pads."

Kueck worked the Herd in conditions that he called "Kent State" like, comparing it to the Herd's game with the Flashes last season: cold and slick. "I thought when the turf started drying, I thought our quarterbacks and receivers threw and caught the ball better."

Kueck was very high on the perfomances so far of players like defensive tackle Byron Tinker, cornerback Ivan Clark, and junior college offensive tackle Chris Barnes. "Byron really had a good off-season, really got after it in the weight room. He's getting off the ball quick, he turns and pursues the ball well. Somebody has got to step up (at that position)," said Kueck. "Ivan Clark has had two good practices coming into today and its like he's made a jump. Ivan's a guy who can play corner or safety and has been around here a little while and I'm real impressed with Ivan's maturity.

"In the last couple of weeks, (Barnes) has come on in the weight room, but he will get lost out here and the offense will look like hieroglyphics to him. We just want him to go full speed. He had mono just before he came up here, dropped a lot of weight, but we told him not to worry about it now. We'll worry about that when we are getting ready for William and Mary. He's getting his three "hots" a day and a little extra peanut butter at night."

Some highlights from this morning included some excellent blocking from wide receiver Marcus Fitzgerald and Will Albin running over linebacker Ian Hoskins. Running backs Gerwin Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw and Tank Tunstalle, along with Albin, all ran hard and there was some terrific collisions between the offensive and defensive lines. Dennis Thorton looked to have a serious lower leg injury, but later returned to practice and ran on the side. Tackle Ryan Baynes appeared to twist and ankle during one-on-one drills and was replace in team on the first team OL by David Ziegler. The first team OL included Barnes, Baynes, Doug Lergurski, John Inman and Seth Cook. Quarterbacks Derek Devine, Bernard Morris and Jimmy Skinner rotated under center with the first and second teams, as did the running backs. Receivers in rotation included Fitzgerald, junior college player Chubb Small, Wilbur Hargrove, Nate Manns and Shawn Lauzon. Tight ends were Jeff Mullins, Brian Shope, Matt Parkhurst and Joe Bragg.

On the defensive side, lining up for the first team were Tinker and DeMarcus Thomas at ends; Floyd Wright and Roger Garrett at tackle; Matt Couch at middle linebacker, with Dennis Thorton (replaced by Ian Hoskins later) and Travis Noel on the outside. Safeties are Curtis Keyes and Chris Royal and corners are Clark and Willie Smith. Royal and UNC transfer corner Chris Hawkins were fielding punts during that portion of the practice. The Herd's schedule is as follows: Practice #4 March 16 7:10 a.m.; Practice #5 March 17 7:10 a.m.; March 18-27 Spring Break @ MU; Practice #6 March 30 7:10 a.m.; Practice #7 March 31 7:10 a.m.; Practice #8 April 4 7:10 a.m.; Practice #9 April 6 7:10 a.m.; Practice #10 April 8 Time TBD; MU Football Coaches Clinic; Practice #11 April 9, at South Charleston's Oakes Field 6:00 p.m. (Ticket available at SC Chamber of Commerce); Practice #12 April 12 7:10 a.m.; Practice #13 April 13 7:10 a.m.; Practice #14 April 14 7:10 a.m.; Practice #15 April 16, Green/White Game 4:00 p.m. (Tickets sold for this event); All dates and times are subject to change.

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