Offense "Rains" On Defensive Parade Thursday

Marshall's 14th day of pre-season practice came Thursday as there were just 14 more days until the season opening kickoff with William & Mary on September 1 at 7:00 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. While the Herd reached the half-way point in preparation for the 2005 season, the precipatation reached record levels for this dry August as the skies opened with much needed rain. The offensive unit was inspired by the cloudburst, as they "rained" scores down on the defense at the end of practice.

Marshall's first and second team offensive units, under quarterbacks Jimmy Skinner and Derek Devine, were five-for-five in the goal line and two minute drills near the end of practice, much to the delight of head coach Mark Snyder. "We started to come together on offense a little bit in the two minute, goal line and blitz periods today," said Snyder. "With reps comes excellence...we're not there yet, but we're getting better."

Chubb Small had two touchdowns in goal line, scoring on the first play of the drill from nine yards out around right end and untouched for a score. He also scored on the first defense on the final play inside the 10-yard line, this time around left end for another nine yard touchdown for the first offense. Small had three carries, 19 yards and two scores. "Chubb is getting better with every rep," said Snyder of the youngster who joined the Herd in January, was moved to receiver in the spring and back to running back in August. He is getting a chance to shine as the Herd is keeping franchise back Ahmad Bradshaw out of "the live stuff," as Snyder called the goal line drill.

Not to be outdone, Devine led the two offense to a score from the 12-yard line with a perfect fade pattern guessed it, Chubb Small, who made an easy catch all alone in the back of the endzone. Ian O'Connor was three-for-three on extra-points and pounded the ball through the uprights and into the second deck in the south endzone.

In the two-minute drill, Devine hooked up with sophomore receiver Uranius Johnson for a 46-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-11 at the Herd's 46-yard line. Johnson was wide open, getting behind freshman defensive backs Jon Moravec and Zearick Mathews. With the ones back on the field with 57 seconds on the clock, Skinner found senior Wilbur Hargrove down the seam on 1st-and-10 from the MU 45-yard line to set up 1st-and goal. Skinner faced a heavy blitz, but found the man of the day, Small, for a hot read and a two-yard gain. On 2nd-and-goal, Skinner threw perfect fade pattern to sophomore Shawn Lauzon in the endzone, who reached around senior corner Chris Hawkins to score another offensive touchdown.

Asked about the five-for-five by his offensive unit Snyder, a former defensive coordinator was enthusiastic about the scoring. "That's good. They handled the blitz period, the goal line and two minute, and the rain, well. The great thing is they had time to do it," said Snyder, saluting his offensive line units. The Herd was moving some players around there today, using center Nate Howard at the right guard and right guard John Inman at right tackle. Demarcus Thomas, on the defensive side, was moved from defensive end to linebacker and junior college middle linebacker Brandon Souder was working some at the "sam" or short side linebacker. "We were experimenting, looking at (Thomas), seeing what he can do. When I was a linebacker coach, I thought it was great for players to learn other positions," said Snyder. "We've taken 21 (linebacker Ian Hoskins) and put him down (on the line) some. It's insurance. Smart people have backup insurance."

NOTES: Marshall has had a great summer academically, according to sports information director Randy Burnside. "We have had a better summer than in a while," Burnside told reporters Thursday. Snyder saluted the academic support persons at Marshall...Saturday's practice will be a dress rehersal for the first game. MU will have team meeting at the Henderson Center at 9:45 a.m., then take the new "Walk To The Stadium" at 10:00 a.m. The Herd will stretch, bring out specialists for warmups, use headsets and have four eight minute quarters on Saturday's, with kickoff at 12:30 p.m. or so. "The practice is open to the public, we want the place rocking, just like a game," Snyder said. "We want as many fans there as can get here."...Bernie Morris was held out of practice again, with what is now being called a sore elbow, not shoulder...The Herd will have its final two-a-day practice on Friday, at 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., but these two are closed to the public...Fans can "Meet The Coaches," sponsored by Miller Lite and Kindred Communications/WRVC 930 AM/WDGG 93.7 FM, at the Hall of Fame Cafe' from 7-8 p.m. Friday evening, then 8-9 p.m. at The Union. There is no cost to enter, but food and drink are on your own. WRVC 930 AM will broadcast the "Insider Statewide" show from 6:05-7:00 p.m., then stay on the air from 7-9 p.m. to talk with the MU coaches and staff.

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