Marshall's entire team, including 30-plus newcomers for 2006, will begin reporting at 10:00 a.m. at the Towers East on Wednesday and will also begin physicals that day with the Herd's Sports Medicine staff and doctors. The Herd will then practice on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and, like last year, the practices are closed to the public. Marshall will also practice on Saturday, August 5, at 3:05 p.m. and Sunday, August 6, at 3:00 p.m. Look for daily practice reports on Marshall Football here at www.goherd.com after each session.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw, shown running in the spring game, is a pre-season All-Conference USA pick and possible All-American candidate.
However, fans will get a chance to catch the Herd is selected practices. On Friday, fans can mingle with the Thundering Herd players at Media Day, beginning at 5:00 p.m. on the FieldTurf at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The media will conduct interviews on the turf from 5-6 p.m. while the Herd takes position and individual pictures, then the Herd will take the 2006 team picture at 6:00 p.m. Gates are open to the general public throughout Friday's event. Then, fans will be permitted to attend the first practice in full pads on Tuesday, August 8 at 3:30 p.m. The scrimmage on August 19 will also be open to the public and Marshall will hold its final "Choose-Your-Seat-Day" as MU looks to set a new season tickets sold record for 2006. Fans are being encouraged to tailgate at the Aug. 19th practice.
Speaking today at C-USA Media Day in Dallas, Texas, Snyder told a CSTV national telecast and webcast he was excited about the upcoming practice, compared to his first August session as the Herd's head coach. "Last year, during two-a-days, we had to have spring football and two-a-days," said Snyder, speaking of being hired late in April at the end of MU's 2005 spring drills. "I got to know these guys and will go into these 29 practices knowing what we need to do. These guys know what to do and that will give us a faster pace this fall."
Joining Snyder was All-C-USA pre-season selection Doug Legursky, also listed on the Remington Watch List for the nation's top centers, and running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who led MU in rushing with 997 yards. "The MAC had some great players and talent, but we jumped into a real tough schedule (in C-USA)" said Legursky of last year's jump from the Mid-American Conference, where MU won five titles in seven years, to C-USA. "This year, our first five games are really tough and will test us." That includes games at WVU, Tennessee and Kansas State, as well as hosting fellow-former MAC member Central Florida. UCF won the East Division of C-USA and played in the Hawai'i Bowl after being 0-11 the previous year.
"I look to play hard," said Bradshaw of leading the Herd in all-purpose yardage with 1,382 yards. "Every Saturday, I look to play the best game I can." Bradshaw missing 1,000 yards by just three was a point of contention with Snyder. "We have got to be smarter there." He also wants to see improvement on the Herd's defensive side, despite leading C-USA in total defense last season. "We can get a lot better on defense, I don't care where we were ranked." Snyder also knows he learned quite a bit in the first season as the head coach. "The learning curve was bigger than I thought. Now, we have a better feel for teams coming into our place and going to theirs. I was used to running just defense and special teams before, but the head coach has to run all three phases. We'll see (where we are) after these 28 practices. We came together (in the spring), the unity came. But (last season) we had way too many penalties, too many fumbles, interception. We had way to many of those things that take no talent to correct. That's what we need to get better at. If we had last year, we could have been in a bowl." Snyder has expectations for his team, based on his past coaching as a coordinator and assistant the past decade in the Big Ten. "We need to become a smarter football team," said Snyder. "Physical play is where I've come from. We have a tailback and center that can get that done. It's all about love. All the great teams I've been a part of have had that."
Answering a fan e-mail on the air, Snyder praised West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin for setting up the WVU-MU game. "I think it's great for our state," said Snyder. "I think what the governor has done, look around the country at the intra-state game. Everybody has them. It's great for the state. We'll have 11 more games but it will be a great game." Beckley, W.Va. native Legursky spoke about the game as well. "Being from the heart of West Virginia, I've got fans on both sides. It's going to be a tough game, but we'll do our best to win it. The next game is always the most important game." Bradshaw echoed his lineman. "Everybody is working hard, and in the weight room working, getting ready for this game," said the Bluefield, Va. native, whose hometown is partly in West Virginia as well as Virginia. Marshall and West Virginia open the 2006 season in Morgantown at 3:30 p.m. on September 2.