"So far, everyone has looked good, but we are in jerseys and shorts," said Snyder. "We'll know more when we put the pads on Saturday. How they respond to being tired and sore." Snyder has a number of positions that are going to have new starters and one of the most important might be the offensive tackles. Marshall lost starting left tackle Seth Cook, starting right tackle Wesley Jones and top backup Chris Barnes from last year as all were seniors. The Herd has many talented youngsters vying for the positions.
"This spring is really important and that position is really important," said Snyder. "That right tackle position is up for grabs. Daniel Baldridge has the girth, the size, he's a long way for defensive ends to run around but he doesn't have the puppies, he doesn't have the feet that Bragg does," said Snyder of converted tight end Joe Bragg, " Bragg has no girth or size and neither of them have any experience." Baldridge, a sophomore, is 6-foot-9, 315-pounds while Bragg, a junior, is 6-foot-4 and up to about 275 pounds. At left tackle, John Inman (6-foot-5, 302-pounds), who played every position but center for the Herd last season, is currently the starter and is backed up by red-shirt freshman Brandon Campbell (6-foot-5, 305-pounds). "John is doing OK, he was our 'swing' guy, but it might be tough to move him over there for his senior year." However, that's exactly what Marshall did in 2006 with Cook, who had always played right tackle before moving to the left sidein 2006. "That's true," said Snyder. "We have also looked at some ways to protect ourself at tackle, some ways to help out there, with tight ends and running backs." Inman seemed happy with his first two days at left tackle. "Sure, it's different but I like it," said Inman, perhaps MU's most versatile lineman. "It's a big responsibility protecting the backside, but it might be harder blocking our ends in practice than anyone we will face on game day." As if to back up Inman's and Snyder's statement during today's practice, running back Chubb Small picked up the end when the young tackles looked inside and allowed Marshall's defensive end Albert McClellan, the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, what looked to be a free shot on the quarterback before Small stepped in.
Also on the line, starting senior left guard David Ziegler (6-foot-5, 296-pounds) will not take part in any contact, so red-shirt freshman Chad Schofield (6-foot-4, 320-pounds) may get more reps there along with senior Marcus Moresea (6-foot-1, 241). Schofield is currently backing up red-shirt frosh Josh Evans (6-foot-4, 315-pounds), who is currently the starting left guard. Senior Doug Legursky (6-foot-3, 311-pounds), All-Conference USA last season, returns for his senior year at center, backed by junior Matt Altobello (6-foot-1, 306-pounds), and junior starting right guard Brian Leggett (6-foot-1, 285) is also back after starting all of last season. Former offensive lineman James Burkes has been moved to the defensive line.
Marshall also looks much improved at receiver, especially the addition of Darius Passmore from junior college. Passmore recently timed a 4.39 40-yard dash on testing day at Marshall, then celebrated with a backflip. "We do have some talent, depth," said Snyder. "We have definitely upgraded our speed. But we are still in shorts and we expected them to look good in shorts. Everything is different with pads. Can you fight through being tired and give great effort?" 6-foot-6 senior wide out Shawn Lauzon looks completely recovered from the hip injury that cost him all but one game last season while junior Emmanuel Spann has added some bulk and looks to have added some speed as well, after returning last season from a knee injury that cost him the entire 2005 season. Red-shirt freshman Bryant Milligan, red-shirt sophomore William Barber and junior E.J. Wynn are getting their first chance to get in the mix at receiver this spring while senior Marcus Fitzgerald is held out of contact.
Marshall will practice on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., and the practice is open to the public. It will include the always popular "Hoot-N-Holler" drill of three linemen on each side of the ball trying to move the ball eight yards in four plays in an 8-by-8 yard square. Fans are reminded that no recording devices are allowed...junior linebacker Ian Hoskins, the starter at the "Sam" linebacker, will also be held out of contact this spring...Snyder will have coaches in who were at Minnesota last season to visit with him this weekend. Snyder coached there from 1997-2000 before being hired at Ohio State...the University of Kentucky staff will visit the Marshall practice next Tuesday...Defensive coordinator Steve Dunlap had a nice "cap" throw when linebacker Mahala Wiggins missed an assignment in six-on-five drills, but offensive line coach Mike Cummings topped Dunlap with a throw and kick for about ten yards during the team period on a missed assignment by tackle Bragg and tight end Patrick Kouns...Marshall added two more nationally televised games to the schedule on Thursday. Marshall will host Rice on CSTV on Saturday, October 27, at 4:30 p.m. The Herd will also appear on Comcast's CSS Regional, facing the Central Florida Golden Knights in Orlando on November 3 at 3:30 p.m. It will be the Herd's first trip to the new UCF Stadium and a first-ever meeting with Rice. Marshall will also be on ESPN when they host West Virginia on September 8, a game expected to be at 11:00 a.m. in WVU's first trip to Huntington to play MU since 1915; and appear on ESPN2 on Tuesday, October 2 at C-USA East Division rival Memphis, and a first-ever Sunday game on October 21 at home against 2006 East Division champion Southern Miss. Both ESPN2 start times are TBA.