Herd Completes 140 Play Scrimmage Saturday

The old line about "the defense is always ahead of the offense" was born out in Saturday's 140-play scrimmage by the Marshall Thundering Herd football team. Especially when the offense was missing, from the start, three starting linemen and the No. 2 running back. Then, seven plays into the workout, All-Conference candidate Ahmad Bradshaw had to be helped from the field by the trainers.

"Ahmad sprained an ankle, just like Doug but a little higher," said a relieved Mark Snyder after the scrimmage which went almost three hours. "We were going to play Ahmad only that first series and then play Kelvin with the ones and Paco with the twos and keep Chubb out. We will re-evaluate those ankle injuries on Monday, we want them full speed for the opener." In the absence of the top two backs, however, Bradshaw's teammate from Graham High School in Bluefield, Va. had a sensational day.

Wesley Beardain avoided the rush as he released this pass during Marshall's scrimmage on Saturday at Edwards Stadium.

Paco Jones rushed 14 times for 72 yards, including a one-yard touchdown. He also caught three passes for 40 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown from Derek Devine with the twos. He split time with the ones with sophomore Kelvin Turner, who had ten carries for 11 yards. "I expected to be busy today, but not this busy," said Turner, who sat last season. "With Ahmad getting hurt and Chubb sitting out, Paco and I had a lot to do today. It went OK, some things were good and some days were bad." The Herd rushed 64 times for 156 yards, but lost 60 yards from that total on nine sacks by the defensive units and a fumble on an option, forced by Josh Johnson and recovered by Matt Couch, who also added a sack and seven tackles.

Snyder summed the scrimmage up from both an offensive and defensive standpoint. "Some good and bad, we learned alot of good lessons. We'll go back and look at the film and look. Bernie came out strong. He came our in charge of the offense and that's the first time we have seen that (in game conditions). He's a lot more patient and will be fine." Bernard Morris was the poster boy for some good and some bad. He hit 25-of-40 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns, finding Cody Slate for a 28-yard score and E.J. Wynn on a perfect flag route on third-and-one from the 21-yard line.

But Morris also threw two interceptions, both by Geremy Rodamer. On the first, he forced the ball into double coverage in the end zone to Hiram Moore. Rodamer picked the ball off and went 103 yards to the other end zone for a defensive score. The final play of the scrimmage Rodamer picked Morris on another throw to Moore on a play that started with a bad snap and big rush. The former running back from Morgantown High School returned that ball 35-yards to end the practice and salt the defensive win away. "That's always a good thing to end up on," said Rodamer. "I used to play a little running back and the runback was a little like that. Our defense threw exceptional blocks or I wouldn't have made it. Nobody can ever quit. We try to never stop running to the ball or any play. We have a big emphasis on finishing. Bernie doesn't take to lightly to someone intercepting the ball so I knew he would try to put a hit on me but our guys got him, because I was getting a little gassed."

Morris was upset with his three turnovers, despite his head coach's praise of his command of the offense. "That's just one thing we can't have and that's turnovers," said Morris, who also rushed for 15 yards but was sacked twice. "Fortunately, today doesn't go on our record as a win or loss. I threw two interceptions and had the turnover on the option and we can't have that in the red zone." Morris would not use any excuses about facing a much-improved Herd defense without Doug Legursky, David Ziegler, Wesley Jones, Ahmad Bradshaw and Chubb Small. "Injuries happen and that's to be expected. We need the young guys to come in and step up, take advantage of all the snaps they are getting while those guys are out. It hurts, though, with (those linemen) out. We need them to get that four yards on every running play. We just have to keep working hard."

Morris is also happy with his teammates on the defensive side of the ball. "It's good to see the defense take advantage of us like that. The secondary may be quite young, but I thought they showed a lot of poise today and the secondary won the scrimmage for them today." Snyder liked his defense as well, but wants also to eliminate turnovers inside of the 20-yard line. "Our red zone woes continue and I guarentee we are going to work on that," said Snyder. "All three of the (first team) turnovers were in the red zone and that's a big turn around. We can't have turnovers. A worse case senario is to come away with three." He did enjoy seeing the defense return the ball for a score, as you would expect out of the former Herd safety. "Rodamer's interception was great to see, with the blocking and all that. You know, last year we had a couple of interceptions, got tackled at the one and then turned the ball back over and didn't get in. That changes the whole momentum of the game. We let those plays continue so we will get used to putting the ball into the end zone."

Other players with good days included tight end Cody Slate, who had four catches for 59 yards and the 28-yard touchdown; Emanuel Spann caught five for 42 yards, while Matt Morris caught six for 50 yards; and E.J. Wynn had three catches for 40 yards with the second unit, including the pretty touchdown from Bernie Morris. Derek Devine and Jimmy Skinner split time on the second team. Devine hit 6-fo-13 for 34 yards and one score, but was sacked five times. Skinner hit just 3-for-10 for 35 yards and threw an interception to Jason Kaminski, who added a tackle. Ian Hoskins had six tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and led with four tackles for loss. J.J. Johnson, who led the defense with 11 tackles and three passes broken up, but was also called for three pass interference penalties. John Jacobs had six tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss, while Bilal El-Amin recorded two sacks. Dennis Thornton had five tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss while Josh Johnson had three tackles, a tackle for loss and forced a fumble.

Snyder will give the Herd 24 hours off, with video and lifting Sunday evening, the players first time off since reporting on Wednesday, August 2. Marshall fans are invited to three events this week. "Paint the Capital City Green" is at the Charleston Embassy Suites on Wednesday, August 16, starting at 6:45 p.m. Friday at 6 p.m. is "Football Fest at Pullman Square," sponsored by Kindred Communications and featuring the Marshall staff, the Huntington Heroes and local high schools. The cost is free. Next Saturday's Herd scrimmage is open to the public and will include a final "Choose-A-Seat Day" starting at 9:00 a.m. Fans are being encouraged to tailgate, as there will be inflatables for the kids and the players will do the "Thunder Walk" from the Henderson Center at 10 a.m., then warm-up about 11:30 for the scrimmage, which will simulate game conditions. Marshall practices twice on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and once on Tuesday and Thursday and all of those are closed to the public.

See scrimmage stats in a seperate story on the home page for www.marshall.scout.com today.

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