Marshall Spring Practice: Number Seven

The sunshine of Wednesday was a distant memory on a rainy, overcast Thursday morning as the Thundering Herd hit the turf at Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the seventh practice of 15 for Spring Football 2005. MU added some new plays for the offense and new coverages for the defense early, then skipped individual work sessions to get to the team period before the heavier rains came. Still, Head Coach Larry Kueck was pleased with the days work as the Herd gets ready for a scrimmage on Saturday.

"It was really a tough chore for the defensive kids when we skipped skeleton period because we had this weather bearing down on us," said Kueck. "We went straight to team, skipping the seven-on-seven period. We put some new routes in (in meetings this morning), but didn't get to practice them before we ran them. Defensively, Bill (Wilt, MU's defensive coordinator) put in coverages for the "red zone." On a normal day, when we're not fighting the weather, we've got time to walk through all that stuff, walk through it, jog through it and then go practice it in 11-on-11, but today we just had to lock in and go 11-on-11."

Kueck is still very pleased with the effort and energy in each practice, as well as the rust being shook off yesterday after the near two-week layoff for spring break. "The biggest thing, the practices have been intense, uptempo," said Kueck. "We talked to them, as coaches, about what were doing, but as football players, you have got to 'buy in' to what we're doing and so far, they are doing a tremendous job." Saturday's scrimmage, which will go at 10:00 a.m. (weather permitting), will be the first chance for some players to seperate themselves on the depth chart from others.

"Yes, this will be. It's still early, but we have a bunch of young football players," said Kueck. "Saturday, we'll loosen them up some then jump into the scrimmage. We will be looking for some guys to step up, make some football plays for us, let us look at the tape and see who did, and who did not, make plays." One of those young players is sophomore center Doug Legursky, from Beckley Woodrow Wilson, who looks to be the Herd's starting center for 2005. The offensive line is young, with Legursky having one start and tackle Seth Cook also having some starts, and is rebuilding this spring. They are without two-year starter Toby Bullock, who is out with an injury, and not only had to deal with the change in the head coach but also have a new position coach in Jim Cummings, who joined the Herd from Western Michigan. "These kids don't have a lot of experience, but they sure have a lot of desire," said Cummings after today's practice.

That was echoed by Legursky. "Yeah, we have a couple of different schemes on the offensive line," said Legursky, a former weight lifting state champion in high school, "differences in the way Coach McHale (former MU OL coach and offensive coordinator Mark McHale, who left this winter to join Bobby Bowden's staff at Florida State) and Coach Cummings. We just have to adjust to the new coach. We're working on technique now; we have learned all our plays and its about getting better." It is different for Legursky, who will be the starter, compared to last year when he came in as a freshman, started the opener against Troy and then backed up departed senior Jesse Saito the rest of the 2004 season.

"Last year, I was just working hard to learn everything I could," said Legursky. "I believe this year I've got everything down pat. I'm working with the centers behind me, like Nate Howard (a local player from Spring Valley, who sat out last season). We've got some guys coming in this summer and we'll all work together. I think we have some new energy to things, everybody's pumped up. We have a new way to practice that's energized us. We all like coach Kueck and if he gets the job, he's been here with us. We know his system."

NOTES: Herd went from 7:00-8:25 a.m. Thursday, due to impending rain...which did come down hard about 8:35...Herd offense continued to work on QB options, as well as swing passes and post-and-corner routes in team...Bullock continues to work on the sideline, going "Old School" today when strength and conditioning coach Mike Jenkins had him towing a weighted sled back-and-forth across the end zone...quarterbacks Jimmy Skinner, Bernard Morris and Derek Devine were much more on target today and ran the offense effectively as team practiced in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, with very limited contact...some defensive players still made big plays, with DeMarcus Thomas and Terick Thomas scoing passes broken up and red-shirt freshman end Bilal El-Amin recovering a fumble in the backfield...Marshall will check the weather and radar on Saturday before making the decision to got at 10 a.m. They may move the start time to accomodate a break in precipitation, but Kueck does not anticipate a cancellation on this scrimmage or moving to another day.

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