"Hoot-N-Holler," a drill of four-on-four in an eight-by-eight yard square for three plays, always is a component of the first day of full pads for the Herd, true for Snyder's teams as it was under former head coaches Bobby Pruett and Jim Donnan. The offense got off to a great start with with four scores in a row to start. Although, for the day, the score was offense-eight scores and defense-eight stops, the defense was not happy among players or coaches and Snyder said the coaches called up the defense at the end of "Hoot-N-Holler" to get that point across.
"The offense started pretty fast in Hoot-N-Holler," said Snyder. "The defense needs to start fast, defense is about emotion and it looked like to me the offense had the emotion at the start. That's totally different than what I am used to." In fact, the offense appeared to carry that momentum into the team period and Snyder agreed. "No question. We addressed that with the defense." To start the drill, Kelvin Turner scored from one-yard out on his series, then Antoine Cabarrus scored on the next three plays. Next up was a one-yard touchdown by freshman Terrell Edwards, who knocked the helmet off safety John Saunders as they collided at the goal line. Tyler Shick, a red-shirt fresman from Youngstown, then scored from one-yard to give the offense a four-for-four start.
With defensive pride on the line, the green-shirted Herd squad got down to business. Phillip Gamble laid two big hits on Cabarrus at the one to stop the fifth attempt, but the offense came right back with a score by freshman Darius Marshall from three-yards away. Freshman end Vinny Curry had two big hits to stop the offense on the next try, and Zearrick Mathews had two hits in the next series to shut down the offense. Gamble had another hit after Kevin Perry made a shoe-string tackle to reign in fullback Cody Tominack and the defense had three stops in a row. The offense responded with a score by Cabarrus, who gained three, three, then two and got the pylon.
An all-defensive back unit of DeNathian Robinson, Perry, Pete Culicerto and DeQuan Bembry stopped Tominack for two no gains in stopping the next drive, with Robinson standing up the fullback on second down. Cabarrus found no running room on the next series, with tackles by Curry, Johnny Jones and Kellen Harris (all true freshmen) and the big lick on third down by Bembry, another frosh. The defense again won three in a row before the offense scored again with Tominack chewing up gains of two, three and three for the score. Fullback Matt Parkhurst gave the offense another score on the next series by carrying two defenders into the end zone. The final series was "Best Three," or best of the offense and defense with one play at the one-yard line. Tackles Daniel Baldridge and John Inman, along with guard Brian Leggett, moved out end Michael Janac, linebacker Josh Johnson, defensive tackle Byron Tinker and safety C.J. Spillman to easily allow Marshall, the back, to reach the end zone. Offense started with four straight, then finished with three straight scores.
"For the first day in pads, it was pretty good popping out there," said Snyder. "We emphasized the younger guys in Hoot-N-Holler and a couple of the young guys showed up. I thought DeQuan did OK, and the young running backs, they stood out." Snyder talked about Kelvin Turner and Chubb Small being pushed by Marshall and Edwards. "I haven't been disappointed in Kelvin. But maybe (the two juniors) are not as far ahead of Marshall and Edwards as they think they are." He also like the play of some of the young linemen, stepping up when injuries sidelined some starters. "On the offensive line, Branden Curry stood out to me. I saw some good things." He also felt they took a negative, in the injuries, into a positive by giving players like Curry, Johnson and Janac more reps. "There were good reps for those guys, and they need them. A guy gets dinged, and it forces you to sit a guy like Albert. I know what Albert can do."
In the team period, the defense had some nice plays especially in blitz drills. Safety Aaron Johnson sacked Bernard Morris when he wasn't touched on the second play at the 45-yard line, then Josh Johnson stopped Chubb Small for a three-yard loss. But just as quickly, Brian Anderson found Courtney Edmonson for a 12-yard gain, then hit Cody Slate for a 45-yard touchdown. Throughout the team period the defense, with starters Albert McClellan and Montel Glasco sidelined with injuries, got pressure, with Curry getting into the backfield and Janac disrupting passes and forcing fumbles, the latter recovered for what would have been a defensive touchdown by Jon Moravec.
In the "Red-Zone," inside the 20-yard line, the offense was outstanding. Morris drove the first offense, with Leggett at center and Matt Altobello at guard with Doug Legursky sidelined with an injury, to a score from the 13-yard line in five plays on a pretty pass to Edmonson for four yards. Anderson was sacked on the next series with the twos and, after Ashton Hall broke up a pass for Bryant Milligan, Anthony Binswanger nailed a 36-yard field goal attempt. With the ball at the 16, freshman Chris Smith got the threes down to the 11-yard line where Binswanger hit another field goal from 29 yards away. On the final series of the day, Morris again drove the ones 15 yards in four plays, helped by Small running for four yard. He then hooked up with Darius Passmore for a seven-yard completion for first down, then hitting Emmanuel Spann for a four-yard touchdown. Binswangers extra-point ended the scrimmage.
NOTES: Former MU players seen watching today included quarterback John Gregory, with his daughter, tackle Madison Sayre and punter/kicker Curtis Head and maybe 300 other Herd fans...Herd men's basketball got in a workout on the turf and ran the steps of the stadium just before football practice...Tavaris Thompson came out in a white jersey to start practice, but was given a blue (injury) jersey about 10 minutes into the workout. He is nursing a tight hamstring...Also seen wearing a "boot" on his left ankle was J.J. Johnson. Lineman David Ziegler is still in blue although in full pads, as were McClellan and Glasco...Edwards was "dinged" in "Hoot-N-Holler," and was taken into the training room following the drill...Snyder explained why he and his coaches are seen wearing nylon tops and sweatshirts. "Coach Glen Mason (at Minnesota) taught us to run before the afternoon practices to get a feel for the heat. If I'm getting too hot in this, then I know the players are getting too hot. During Hoot-N-Holler, I got dizzy for a moment as I was yelling at players." The heat index was 104 on the field, and with temps even higher on Wednesday, is expected to top a "106-feels like"...Marshall will have its first "two-a-day" on Wednesday morning and afternoon, and those workouts are closed to the public. However, Coach Snyder was so impressed by the fan turnout on such a hot day, will re-open practice on Thursday, starting about 3:20 p.m. He will make a decision then about Friday's double and Saturday morning's workouts as to open or closed to public.