While not as hot as Astroturf that used to cover the James F. Edwards Field, the fake grass still is likely to raise to the 110-120 range under the MU football cleats. The temp dropped to 88 degrees by 6 p.m., but the humidity still had the "feels-like" around 100. The thing that raised temperatures most, however, was leg injuries to starting center Doug Legursky and starting defensive end Albert McClellan. Legursky started the 2006 season with an ankle injury, while McClellan was able to walk to mid-field at the end of practice under his own power. Marshall Head Coach Mark Snyder had no information about the two player's status at the end of practice. Also sitting out the team period was junior corner J.J. Johnson with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Albert McClellan, shown tackling WVU back Owen Schmitt in 2006, was one of two starters injured at Monday's practice, although McClellan later joined the team huddle at mid-field under his own power.
Marshall will go to full pads on Tuesday, a practice open to the public starting about 3 p.m. While closed to the public, the first "two-a-day" practice is scheduled for Wednesday, then again Friday, with one practice on Thursdays. The alternating days were a mandate from the NCAA about three seasons ago to cut back on the amount of practice time in August, since football is now nearly year-round in conditioning and weight lifting. There is no need to burn off the summer "fat" of players who spent the summers relaxing or working at home without much in the way of designated workouts.
"Hoot-N-Holler," the popular offense versus defense drill where three linemen, tight ends or receivers try to move the ball into the end zone against defenders in four plays in an eight-yard by eight-yard box, will be one of the first drills in full pads. MU, however, will only give the first and second team one set of drills, while the youngsters may go two or three times. "I was trying to decide whether to give Doug and Albert one set," said Snyder, "but today makes that decision easy. Injuries are part of the game and people are going to get hurt. When you are hot and tired, everything is different."
Up until then, Snyder once again thought the team improved upon Sunday's performance. In fact, he thinks each practice has been better than the one before. "We've got to work through (the heat), push through when it is hot," said Snyder. "Everything is difficult when you are hot and tired and that's when you've got to bear down and that's what today was about.
"Our older guys are solid, and the young guys are coming. I've asked all of them and it's sinking in a little bit. Everyday, we add more stuff because we have to keep moving, so the young guys have to catch up and the ones that catch on quick enough, they are the ones who can help us because I think they are all talented enough."
On the defensive front, Bilal El-Amin, a junior tackle from Lexington (Ky.) Lafayette High School, has left the Thundering Herd over the weekend. That leaves a depth-challenged defensive line a little thinner, but Snyder is very excited about the youngsters on the defensive front four. Red-shirt freshman Michael Janac gave fans and coaches an idea in the spring of how good he could be, but the real treat has been the play of true freshmen Vinny Curry, Johnny Jones, Shane Moore and even walk-on DeMetrius Thompson. "Vinny doing very well, he might be able to help us on third down this year," said Snyder. "Johnny is a big body that can move, still learning but boy, can he move. There's a little ‘paralysis by analysis' (thinking instead of just reacting) but he is a big body. Shane is a big, strong guy in there. It's a tough world in there for freshmen. Shane doesn't know how to strain yet in there, he's got plenty of strength. He may be one of the strongest guys on the team already, he just doesn't know how to strain yet but once he learns he might also help us this year. "Thompson has done a good little job, he is great for our football team." Snyder also thinks his returning veterans, Ryland Wilson, Montel Glasco and Byron Tinker, have also had a good camp so far. "Ryland has had a great camp so far, Montel was great today and Tink, well, Tink is solid. We'll have to see how it plays out. Johnny may move down inside, either him or Mike, so we'll be two-deep across the front which is a luxury."
The big lick of the day was C.J. Spillman rocking Courtney Edmondson, when the receiver appeared to get behind the safeties. Spillman's hit took the wide out off his feet and dislodged the ball from his hands. "That was a good play. C.J. has a lot of range, what he's got to work on is open field tackling. That will be the big emphasis for him."
NOTES: Brandon Lane, an offensive lineman, was not on the roster but has been in camp since day one for the Herd. He is wearing No. 55…recruit Franchez Pitts, who was a non-qualifier at MU, has decided to quit playing football, according to a published report…Darius Passmore was once again putting on a clinic catching the deep ball. MU's young corners may not face many receivers this season better than the junior college transfer, who wear's Randy Moss' No. 88 and often reminds long-time Herd observers of the New England Patriot's receiver…Paint The Capital Green is coming up at the Embassy Suites in Charleston on August 15. Tickets are $35 each and one fan will win a pair of tickets to the MU-WVU Friends of Coal Bowl game in Huntington on Sept. 8. Call the Big Green at 304-696-7138 or 866-443-7310 to attend the tenth annual Paint The Capital City Green…There are three or four freshmen who may still have NCAA Clearing House issues, although at this point no one is sure who those players are. Taravis Thompson practiced with the Herd awhile last August before being taken off the field, and ended up sitting out all of 2006-07…Working on returns are return men from 2006, Chubb Small and Emanuel Spann, but also deep are Darius Marshall, Terrell Edwards and DeQuan Bembry among the true freshmen along with red-shirt frosh Bryant Milligan.