Herd Begins Game Week: T-Minus 5 And Counting!

It was a muggy, overcast Saturday morning, better suited for sleeping in than football practice, but Marshall head coach Mark Snyder had method to his madness. First, the Herd worked out at 10:30 today, the exact time of kickoff for game two with Kansas State two weeks from today. Sunday evening, the Herd will work out under the lights to practice in the same conditions as game one this Thursday night, September 1, at 7:00 p.m., when the ninth-ranked I-AA Tribe of William & Mary opens at MU.

"There's definitely an adjustment," said Snyder of the early and late weekend workouts. "We're looking long-range. We have a 10:30 a.m. game coming up and we have a night game this Thursday, so it was an opportunity to practice Saturday morning and under the lights." Practice early in the morning is sometimes lethargic, however, and Snyder was not quick to point out anyone who had a great day until he thought for a moment. "Geremy Rodamer. We've been talking about making plays in practice, because it becomes habit-forming, and we were glad to see him step up and make some plays."

Rodamer, who Steve Cotton of the ISP Sports/Thundering Herd Network quiped in the press box at practice, "That might be the best safety in the league not starting," had a couple of big plays Saturday morning, getting reps while Curtis Keyes wore a gold non-contact jersey to rest his ankle (he is expected to be full-speed Thursday). Rodamer had an interception of a Bernard Morris, nee Bernie, pass in the team periods, when the one-offense went against the one-defense, and had a sack later on a safety blitz. Other than that, however, Morris and Jimmy Skinner, running with the second team, both threw the ball well, made the hot reads and converted third-and-10 five of eight plays.

Returning to practice was right guard Ryan Baynes, who reclaimed his starting spot and moved Seth Cook back to right tackle. Wesley Jones was moved back to second team right tackle as a result. Robert Surratt, who had Clearing House issues with the NCAA, also returned to practice on Friday and made some nice catches in offensive team period against the scout team, but allowed Jeremy Frazie to step in front of him for an interception of Skinner later in practice. Demarcus Thomas, who is running as the second team middle linebacker, also had an interception in practice, while Chris Hawkins, beat on a slant pattern from Morris to Ahmad Bradshaw, recovered to poke the ball away from Bradshaw at the five-yard line and through the end zone for a defensive touchback. Hawkins also broke up a pretty pass from Skinner to Shawn Lauzon near the end of team.

Game week means more practice against the scout teams, however, for the first and second teams on offense and defense. "We are starting to get looks now in practice we have not had in camp," said Snyder after the session ended. "Obviously, William and Mary's offense is different than Marshall's offense, and vice versa for the defense, and we need to see that, work against those looks." Snyder said the Herd will begin to taper off on Monday, running more situational drills against the scouts and preparing mentally, as well as physically, for the opener. They will also reduce periods in practice, as seen today with some two minute, verses five minute, periods to rest some physically for the game. "William and Mary is very much like the Marshall and Youngstown State days of the past. They'll be excited to come in here and play a Division I-A team in a hostile environment," said Snyder. "Coach (Jimmye) Laycock is a great coach, for a long, long time. They have a very veteran team and we will have to come out ready to play. I'm trying to stay focused and it will be an exciting night to be leading my team out, instead of running out in the back of the pack somewhere." Snyder encourages all Herd fans to show up early for the walk from the Henderson Center at 5:00 p.m. Thursday night to the Joan C. Edwards Stadium, a new tradition for the Herd brought in from Ohio State by Snyder, the Buckeye's former defensive coordinator.

NOTES: Marshall will practice Sunday night, then Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon...all pre-game practices are closed to the public...the first Conference USA Coaches teleconference will start Monday afternoon, with the media talking with every coach in the league...other C-USA teams in action Thursday night include UCF at South Carolina (ESPN Game Day will be live from Columbia and then the game will be seen on ESPN); Oregon is at Houston, with the game at Reliant Stadium, the home of the NFL's Houston Texans; and Minnesota of the Big Ten travels to Skelly Stadium to play Tulsa. Both the Ducks-Cougars and Golden Gophers-Golden Hurricanes games are on the ESPN family of networks...Saturday, Duke is at East Carolina; Baylor is at SMU; UAB is at Tennessee; and UTEP is at New Mexico State...Sunday, Tulane is at Southern Miss in another national broadcast, and Monday, Labor Day-September 5, Mississippi is at Memphis.

Pre-Game radio is at 5:00 p.m. on the Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Network, featuring the new set and brand new Recreational Vehicle from Kindred Communications, home of the Marshall flagship stations WRVC 930-AM and WDGG, "The Dawg," 93.7 FM, of the Herd Network. Woody Woodrum, Robert Harper, Chuck Landon, Greg Perry, Greg Cyrus and Steve Cotton will all be heard in the pre-game. New segments include a look at this week's opponents by the Herd offensive and defensive coaches assigned to breakdown that week's rival team; updates from announcers at other C-USA games; more Marshall players heard from in pre-game; and players introducing themselves in the starting line-ups. Also on 930-AM, one hour before the ISP Sports pre-game will be the "NCAA Insiders" show from Host Communications, looking nationally at college football each week.

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