"I agree, we looked better in shorts today than (Thursday)," said Snyder. He thought the practice was much more crisp than day one, when he thought the Herd started a little slow. Snyder is also excited to have so much more experience than last season, when the Herd's six returning starters were the second-fewest in the nation. "We have a lot of guys back that have played a lot of football. You need that depth for injuries, to give guys a spell and those kind of things. Teams that stay healthy play pretty well in November."
Obviously, Snyder is counting on a great year from Ahmad Bradshaw, but he is very excited, like Offensive Coordinator Larry Kueck was at Media Day Friday, about Chubb Small. The Herd is counting on Small to spell Bradshaw, but with no dropoff of talent level. "Chubb is a year older, a year more mature. Great to have two talented backs like we have." Snyder is also moving players around. Former linebacker John Jacobs is now at defensive end, while former defensive end Jason Kaminski is now at outside linebacker. Former ends Bilal El-Amin and Jeff Bush are now a down linemen on the defensive front. In perhaps the most startling move, 2005's leading tackler and senior outside linebacker Dennis Thorton has been moved to the "nickle" back, a formation that gives the Herd five defensive backs and two linebackers in pass coverage. "We have moved Dennis to nickle, because we have a need at nickle," said Snyder. "We have numbers at linebacker and he has the athleticism to do it. We are trying to get our best 11 players on the field." The secondary is still Curtis Keyes and Geremy Rodamer at the safeties and James Johnson and Jeremy Frazie at corner, although Snyder admits the corner position is still wide open for a move by red-shirt freshmen Chuck Roberts and Zearrick Mathews or true freshmen Kelvin Turner, Ashton Hall or Kevin Perry.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw and Marshall offense is ready for a better season in 2006.
Ahmad Bradshaw was also pleased with the team's effort on the second day of practice. The junior from Bluefield, Va. is hoping for a return to the days of high octane Herd attacks on offense. "That's our plan, to come out early and be crisp," said Bradshaw. "Be in sync, get everything flowing. We've got a year under our belt, but we are trying to make a team here. Last season was unacceptable with losing, with Marshall history and the teams we had the two previous years here. We have a lot of depth on offense and everybody has a spot to lose with all the good players behind them, pushing them." Bradshaw, like many of the Herd players, is looking forward to the opener at West Virginia, who recruited him as well as Virginia. He would like to put up numbers against the No. 7 Mountaineers like the 99 yards rushing and touchdown at Virginia Tech, the 133 rushing at UTEP and the 187 yards rushing against East Carolina. "I believe big time players make big time plays in big time games. I just will use that as a goal to do my best in not on the big games, but in every game this season. The next game is always the big game."
NOTES FROM DAY TWO: Punters Marty Biagi and Ian O'Connor had a big day of kicking, nailing most of their punts between 40-50 yards long and both hitting four-to-five 55-yard or more kicks...punt returners, for now, appear to be Marcus Fitzgerald, Chubb Small, Ahmad Bradshaw and Emanuel Spann...Nick Newell, the freshman from Wayne, continues to impress observers with his crisp passing, especially on deep routes, in one-on-one drills. Newell and Brian Anderson, the other Herd frosh QB, will not get many reps in team, as the Herd readies Bernie Morris, Jimmy Skinner, Derek Devine and Wesley Beardain for the upcoming season. Both freshman seem to have nice touch, although shoulder pads don't go on until Sunday...Albert McCellan was knocking down passes in team drills from the end, as was Jacobs with the second team...freshman receiver William Barber seemed to be overheated towards the end of the practice, as he was iced down by the sports medicine staff...Will Albin displayed good hands in the team drill, as did E.J. Wynn and Spann...Morris was very crisp throwing today and seems to have better touch on the shorter passes, especially when rolling out to throw on the run.