Herd Battles Heat On Sunday's Practice

August's "Heat Wave" came back with a vengence for the Herd's Sunday practice, as the heat index hit 115 on a day where the temperature hovered between 95 and 100 with very high humidity. Despite the wilting conditions, Marshall coach Mark Snyder was very encouraged at the Herd's third day on the field, calling out the defense for leadership and enthusiasm on the first day in shoulder pads.

In the team period, the defense was very effective in stopping nearly everything except quarterback Bernard Morris. "Bernie" hooked up with receiver Shawn Lauzon for gains of five yards, 15 yards, nine yards and 10 yards in the face of an all-out blitz to end the practice. Morris also found Emanuel Spann for a 17-yard gain, then fullback Will Albin for another 12-yards and his only miss in team was a drop by slot receiver Marcus Fitzgerald. The defense, though, stacked up running backs Ahmad Bradshaw, Chubb Small, Paco Jones and Antoine Cabarrus.

Bernie Morris, shown in the Spring game, hit 6-of-7 passes on Sunday in team for 68 yards and ran twice for 19 yards in the first practice in shoulder pads for Marshall. photos by Greg Perry/HI staff

"I saw a little bit (of enthusiasm and leadership) today by our defense," said a very hot Snyder after the practice, "and when the one offense was out there, some young guys have to step up (on the sidelines), that's a big play. But I liked the defense's enthusiasm and we've got to get everyone there." Snyder, who like his players battled the heat and humidity, was encouraged by the practice in these conditions. "It sure was hot, the heat index was up there. You saw all of us running around out there, putting (ice) towels on the players, but the kids fought through it. We're going to get them into the ice tubs, taking a lot of precautions, but I appreciate their effort. I think it shows a little bit of their conditioning, it was hot out here. The hottest day we have had. It cooled off toward the end of practice (as the field got into the shade of the press box), we watered them down and I like the way they finished. I was a little disappointed with the way we started practice with special teams, and we will correct that. But then I thought practice picked up as we went."

Snyder was perhaps speaking of a poor effort in punting, as Ian O'Connor and Marty Biagi neither had a punt over 40 yards and even had one blocked by linebacker Mahala Wiggins. The defense was bringing the rush with shoulder pads on, but there seemed to be no effect on placekicker Anthony Binswanger. He hit 12-of-13 kicks, from the left, right and middle, with a long of 39 yards. The miss was on a poor snap, although blocked kicks were recorded as team misses when outside rushers C.J. Spillman, J.J. Johnson and Terick Thomas got inside to make blocks. Binswanger has kicked very consistantly all during the first three practices. "The misses or blocks, they don't even effect him," said Snyder of his junior college transfer kicker. "He went right back out there and nailed the next kick."

Snyder called out various players who have jumped out at him in practice in three workouts. "Maurice Kitchens is having a good camp so far," said Snyder of the sophomore outside linebacker, who recorded a sack on Derek Devine and had three other tackles. "He's shown us, but we'll see when the pads go on (on Tuesday -- open to the public at 3:20 p.m.). Emanuel Spann, J.J. (James Johnson), Chubb (Small) ...we'll known more about the linemen once pads go on, but we are very excited about the way Chris Terrell has worked all summer and so far in camp. He is looking good." A defender who seems to be in the dog house a bit is fellow defensive tackle Juan Underwood, who is not getting reps with the one defense and is sharing time with junior Jeff Bush on the second team.

NOTES: James Burkes, a red-shirt freshman from Capital High School in Charleston, has followed fellow in-state lineman Matt Altobello, a sophomore from Keyser, to center. Burkes is working with the third team, while Altobello is backing up Remington Award Watch candidate, and fellow in-state product from Beckley Woodrow Wilson, Doug Legursky...Travius Thompson, pronounced Tra-var-rus according to the freshman, continues to catch the ball very well and has moved up to the second team already, alongside Matt Morris and fellow freshman Courtney Edmonson, who is playing the slot...Matt Parkhurst has moved from tight end to fullback, although he still lines up out at his former position when the Herd uses tight ends. He was running with the second team today, behind Will Albin and ahead of Cody Tominack...Happy Birthday Ian O'Connor, who was 21 on Sunday...Terick Thomas appears to be the backup nickle back to Dennis Thorton, although Thorton got the bulk of the work on Sunday, even with the second and third teams as he re-learns defensive back. He played rover for the Herd in Bob Pruett's 4-4 defense in 2004...Uranius Johnson got some time with the number one offense on Sunday, with Hiram Moore sitting out...Players in "blue" injury jerseys included conerback Zearrick Mathews, running back Darius Lewis and offensive tackle Wesley Jones. None appear serious and Jones will reportedly start practicing full go on Monday...some weights on the roster have changed quite a bit, according to strength coach Mike Cochran. Bernie Morris, listed at 211 is at 220; fellow QB Jimmy Skinner is now up to 207, from a listed 198; Ahmad Bradshaw is up five pounds, to 197; Chris Barnes, who is listed at 265, but was probably close to 250 in 2005, was another "Ironman" Award winner with Morris and is running first team right tackle now at a solid 278; left tackle Seth Cook has reduced from 332 to 317, to increase his quickness; center Doug Legursky is 312 pounds, while tackle Daniel Baldridge is 6-foot-9 and 315 pounds; defensive end and All-Conference USA Freshman team member Albert McCellan is up to 244, from 225 last season; Bilal El-Amin is trying to add weight for the move from defensive end to tackle and is up to 253, from 249. The Herd has 13 players over 300 pounds, including three freshmen linemen: Brandon Campbell at 305, Josh Evans at 315 and Chad Schofield at 320. The biggest men on the team are defensive tackle Juan Underwood at 327 and offensive guard Zane Bruin is 330 pounds, while offensive tackle Wesley Jones and defensive tackle Chris Terrell are at 332. ...Equipment manager Rich Worner had the players to leave their shoulder pads and shoes in the end zone to dry out from the heavy sweating in the high heat and humidity. His staff will move the pads and shoes into the locker room at dusk.

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