Herd Football Enters Final Stretch Of Spring

Saturday will see the Thundering Herd football team enter the final stretch for spring football practice with the now annual workout at South Charleston's Oakes Field, beginning at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow evening. Marshall fans, however, have more questions about who will be the next head coach of the Conference USA-bound Herd than they have about the limited numbers on the offensive line and inexperience at the quarterback, defensive line and linebacker positions for the 2005 edition of MU football.

First, to the second of three allowed scrimmages that will take place in the "Mound City," an event which may attract an all-time record crowd with expected good weather and a 6:00 p.m. start to encourage tailgating. The event is free to the public, but you will need a ticket to be eligible for the glut of prizes to be given away. These include a Dodge vehicle from White Dodge (estimated to be worth $5000); a trip to the Bahamas, from National Travel; two MU season football tickets for 2005; SC Community Center memberships; contest to win a Harley Davidson and truck, worth $25,000; gift cetificates from Sport Mart; and a Songer Whitewater Trip for two.

Bob Anderson, of the SC Convention and Visitors Bureau, said tickets are available at their office and at South Charleston City Hall, where former MU linebacker Richie Robb is the Mayor. "We are excited to have Marshall coming to the Kanawha Valley for the third year in a row," said Anderson, the driving force behind what had been a rotating spring workout (Charleston's Laidley Field and Parkersburg's Stadium Field have both hosted workouts), but this is the third year for a trip to venerable Oakes Field, located beside the South Charleston Industrial Center. The Herd is expected to do some quick stretching and individual drills before starting a scrimmage that is expected to run over 100 plays. Last Saturday, the Herd ran about 85 plays in a scrimmage at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

"Yeah, (the defense) had a great practice," said interim head coach Larry Kueck, following Wednesday morning's full pad workout in Huntington. "We put some new things in on offense and we struggled with it. We also were blitzing more on defense and everybody (on offense) has to be aware of that. That was a good practice to get on video tape, so we can to go back and teach from (today's mistakes)." Kueck has been pleased throughout the spring with how practices have gone back-and-forth between the two units, the offense wearing the home green jerseys and the defense in white. It has seemed that when one unit wins the day, as the defense did on Wednesday, then the other comes roaring back in the next workout. Hopefully, there will be some offensive fireworks in front of a large crowd of Herd fans in South Charleston on Saturday evening."

Marshall is hosting its annual "Football Coaches Clinic" today at the Shewey Athletic Building, which will run from 8:00 a.m. through this afternoon's projected 3:00 p.m. practice. The coaches will return in the evening to wrap-up the individual film and board sessions before hosting a hospitality reception for visiting coaches. The Herd will work in shoulder pads and short on Friday, saving its hitting for Saturday's scrimmage. The Herd is expected to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings (7:00 a.m.) next week before the annual Green-White Game next Saturday, April 16, at 4:00 p.m. at Edwards Stadium. The cost is $5 per person, with proceeds going to MU's Quarterback Club. The game will be broadcast in Huntington on WRVC 930 AM, with Robert Harper and Woody Woodrum calling the action.

The coaching search continues at Marshall, with Director of Athletics Bob Marcum, Interim MU President Mike Farrell and the coach screening committee reportedly meeting on Thursday afternoon. Follows an earlier meeting in the week with current Florida assistant, and Hurricane, WV, resident, John "Doc" Holliday. Marshall reportedly met with Ohio State defensive coordinator, Mark Snyder during the final week of March. Snyder, formerly a Marshall All-American for the 1987 National Finalist Herd team and from nearby Ironton, Ohio, is being touted by OSU head coach Jim Tressel, a former Herd nemesis when he was the head coach at I-AA Youngstown State. Although rumors have circulated regarding former South Carolina assistant Dave Roberts, who was a head coach at Baylor (97-98), Northeast Louisiana (89-93) and Western Kentucky (84-88), will be interviewed, thus far no one has confirmed or denied his meeting with MU officials. Farrell reportedly told Charleston-area media earlier this week he expected an announcement to come in the next 10 days.

Each possible candidate has strong backing in their corner. Kueck was choosen by former Herd coach Bob Pruett to succeed him as head coach for both spring practice and, it's believed, in MU's first season in C-USA. Kueck has been an offensive coordinator at seven schools, including MU in 1996, and coached at C-USA schools Rice, SMU and Southern Miss. Snyder has the backing of Tressel and many MU fans, who remember the former Herd safety making a Marshall record 10 interceptions in the 1987 season. Snyder was defensive coordinator at YSU in 1996 and was named DC at OSU last season after three seasons coaching linebackers. Roberts has the backing of former Gamecock head coach Lou Holtz, who recently retired at USC, and is the only candidate with head coaching experience. Roberts took both WKU and NELA to the I-AA playoffs. Finally, former WVU head coach Don Nehlen is reportedly in Holliday's coner, as the former Mountaineer player spent 20 seasons on Nehlen's staff at West Virginia after completing his playing career at WVU in 1978. Holliday, never a coordinator, has been honored as one of the nation's top recruiters more than once in his career.

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