Marshall Fights Cold, Snow In Charleston

On a day more akin to January than Easter weekend, the Marshall football team made its annual trek to the Kanawha Valley for a practice at University of Charleston Stadium/Laidley Field on Saturday. A sled track, however, might have been a better description of the day with snow flying, the wind howling and the temperatures at or below freezing for the team and a couple of hundred hardy Herd fans.

Despite the conditions, the offense hit some big plays and ran the ball effectively in beating the defense 45-34 in a "jersey" scrimmage. The offense claimed the green jerseys for at least eight days, starting with Tuesday's practice, and will hold them through next Sunday's next jersey scrimmage. Offensive coordinator Larry Kueck saw his side of the ball jump to a 43-13 lead and hang on for the win after being backed up inside the six-yard line for the final 14 plays by former Marshall receiver Randy Moss of the Oakland Raiders, who stopped by for a short visit on the cold, windy and snowy day at the field where he had many highlights in his career at DuPont High School just outside Charleston.


Chubb Small looked for an opening through the snow at The Herd's Charleston practice on Saturday.. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

The offense ran the ball well, gaining 156 yards on the ground on 56 carries, led by Ironton red-shirt freshman Darius Lewis with 50 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. Junior Chubb Small added 49 yards on 15 carries while senior Antoine Cabarrus added 14 totes for 37 yards. Bernard Morris led the quarterbacks with six rushes for 41 yards and led the passing offense to 256 yards through the air on a 15-of-29 passing day with no interceptions among the Herd's top three quarterbacks. Morris was 8-of-19 for 207 yards and the only passing touchdown, a pretty 80-yard strike to tight end Cody Slate. Sophomore Wesley Beardain was 4-for-4 for 30 yards and red-shirt freshman Brian Anderson hit 3-of-6 for 19 yards. Anderson also had a one-yard rushing touchdown. Walk-on sophomore quarterback Andy Elcess threw eight times in a pass skel drill at the halftime of the scrimmage, hitting on two for 24 yards but also being intercepted by red-shirt defensive back DeNathian Robinson for what would have been a 60-yard score before the coaches stopped the play on Robinson's way to the end zone. Elcess was hampered with offensive linemen playing tight ends during the drill.


Marshall coach Mark Snyder looked on as QB Bernard Morris ran during Marshall's Charleston practice. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

"Our quarterbacks did a good job of getting us into the right plays and making the right reads today, but we are still inconsistent," said head coach Mark Snyder at the end of the workout. "We have got to hit the open men. Obviously, Bernard does a good job of improvising, but today I saw Brian Anderson improvising for the first time. I saw him step up and go, which is a good thing to see. Not too bad today. The key was we didn't turn the ball over. The offense can't lose this type of scrimmage if they don't turn the ball over." Despite the good day throwing, Snyder was also impressed with some of his young defensive backs especially early in the scrimmage. "I was impressed with some of their abilities, but obviously we are going to have to play the deep ball better. Their hitting ability was something to see." Red-shirt frosh defensive back D.J. Wingate had the big hit of the day when he laid out fellow frosh tight end Nick Newell early in the scrimmage. Passes were broken up by sophomore Zearrick Mathews, red-shirt frosh Ashton Hall, Wingate, red-shirt freshman Kevin Perry and senior Phillip Gamble, while sophomore John Saunders had four tackles and a tackle for loss.


JUCO receiver Darius Passmore gained yardage on this play during Marshall's annual practice in Charleston on Saturday. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Snyder named a few other players who caught his eye in the workout. "Cody Slate had a big day, but we know what Cody can do," said Snyder. Slate led all receivers with four catches for 105 yards and the 80-yard scoring catch. "Same with Albert," said Snyder speaking of junior Albert McClellan who was second in total tackles in the scrimmage with seven and led all defenders with two tackles for loss and two sacks for minus-15 yards plus tacked on two quarterback pressures. "Courtney Edmondson had a good day (three catches for 51 yards) before he tweaked his hamstring and we took him out. We also have to make sure we get Darius more involved." Darius Passmore had no catches, but ran two end arounds and a reverse in the workout. The cold weather was certainly a factor in some of the player's minds. "Darius told me this type of weather was not in his contract," said Snyder laughing about the Florida City, Florida native, "or Courtney (Titusville, Fla.) or Albert (Lakeland, Fla.) for that matter."

One player who fought the cold was kicker Anthony Binswanger, a native of Pleasant Hill, California. The senior hit on three-of-three extra-points and made field goals from 25 yards and 41 yards before the defense blocked his third try into the wind. "He and Spann had another day to work together," sais Snyder of Emmanuel Spann who will replace Marty Biagi as the holder on kicks. Biagi injured his right knee in Wednesday's special teams scrimmage while trying to tackle, ironically, Spann on a punt return. Biagi, the Herd's expected starting punter, is out indefinitely and will be replaced by Jake Fields, a walk-on freshman from Hurricane (W.Va.) High School via Hargrave Military Academy. Spann also had a good day receiving with three catches for 65 yards.

On the defensive side, converted fullback Will Albin led the defense at linebacker with 10 tackles for a depth-depleted linebacker corp. Albin was an all-state fullback and linebacker at Princeton (W.Va.) High School and the senior also had two tackles for loss while linebacker Maurice Kitchens was held out for precautionary reasons, said Snyder, as was running back Kelvin Turner. Senior defensive tackle Byron Tinker made six tackles and had a tackle for loss while senior linebacker Clint Eakles, juco defensive back Aaron Johnson, junior tackle Bilal El-Amin and red-shirt freshman tackle Michael Janac each totaled five tackles. Eakles and El-Amin had two tackles for loss, Janac had two sacks and and two tackles for loss for minus-16 yards. Converted offensive lineman James Burkes, who starred at Laidley Field at Capital High School in Charleston, had four tackles, a sack and two tackles for minus-23 yards in losses. Josh Johnson, the Herd's junior middle linebacker, had four tackles as did nearby Cabell Midland High School's Saunders, who added a tackle for loss from his safety position.

NOTES: Marshall will practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and then have another scrimmage on Sunday, April 15. "We're not gonna waste a Friday practice," said Snyder of why the rare Sunday practice. "We're going to hit, the whole deal. You have to have a helmet only practice on a Friday to scrimmage Saturday, like we did (yesterday). We have had our three required helmet practices in, so we will not have another."… Snyder has not decided as of the end of Saturday's practice which workouts this week will be open to the public…The Marshall Quarterback Club of Charleston hosted the event at Laidley Field, and feed the players with their "Smokin' Thunder" tailgate…Marshall's spring game is scheduled at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium on April 21 at 3 p.m.

Statistics:

Rush: Darius Lewis 11 carries-50 yards, TD-8 yards; Chubb Small 15-40; Antoine Cabarrus 14-37; Bernard Morris 6-41; Brian Anderson 4-25; Darius Passmore 3-1; Emmanuel Spann 1-5; Wesley Beardain 1-5; Team 1 (-15); Sacks 5 (-37).

Pass: Bernard Morris 19 attempts-8 completions-0 interceptions, 207 yards, TD-80 yards; Brian Anderson 6-3-0, 19 yards; Wesley Beardain 4-4-0, 30 yards; Andy Elcess 8-2-1, 24 yards (pass skel only).

Receiving: Cody Slate 4 receptions-105 yards, TD-80 yards; Emmanuel Spann 3-65; Courtney Edmondson 3-51; Shawn Lauzon 2-10; Matt Parkhurst 2-20; Kyle Echols 1-20; William Barber 1-5; Brian Shope 1-4.

Kicking: Anthony Binswanger 3-3 extra-points and 2-3 field goals; Team 0-1 field goal (blocked).

Defense: Will Albin 10 tkl, 2 tfl (-2); Albert McClellan 7 tkl, 2 qbs (-15), 2 tfl (-15), 2 qbp; Byron Tinker 6 tkl, tfl (-3); Clint Eakles 5 tkl, 2 tfl (-3); Bilal El-Amin 5 tkl, 2 tfl (-5); Michael Janac 5tkl, 2 qbs (-16), 2 tfl (-16); Aaron Johnson 5 tkl; James Burkes 4 tkl, qbs (-8), 2 tfl (-23), qbp; Daniel Wells 4 tkl;Josh Johnson 4 tkl; Ashton Hall 3 tkl; Montel Glasco 3 tkl, tfl (-1); Cody Tominack 3 tkl; John Jacobs 2 tkl, tfl (-7); DeNathian Robinson 2 tkl, int/TD-60 yards; D.J. Wingate 2 tkl, pbu; Phillip Gamble 2 tkl, pbu; Chuck Roberts tkl; Ryland Wilson tkl; Kevin Perry tkl, pbu; Antonio Smith tkl; J.J. Johnson tkl; Bradley Roberts tkl; Howard King tkl; Zearrick Mathews pbu. KEY: tkl-tackles; tfl-tackles for loss; qbs-quarterback sacks; qpb-quarterback pressure; pbu-passes broken up; int-interception.


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