In spite of the heat, and despite some further injuries, the Herd held a spirited workout between 3:55 and 6 p.m. this afternoon. Marshall's Snyder allowed players to work individual and team kicking in football pants and t-shirts, adding full pads a half-hour into the workouts. The Herd also took two extended, ten minute water breaks in which the team was sent into the shade along the sideline wall and that shade created by the Shewey Athletic Building.
The Herd was working on the passing game this afternoon, and Snyder changed up the rotations a bit. "We put the young kids (at quarterback) with the ones today, to give them a chance, a shot." Snyder admitted he missed a bit of the passing in team as West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin came to the stadium to film a commercial that included Marco, the Herd's mascot, filming in costume in the heat. "It looked like they did OK, we have got to look at the film. A couple of little mistakes here and there...they have to learn when to throw the ball away. But we can evaluate them since they got the chance to go with the ones.
Being a one is one thing, staying a one is another. The Herd already had starters like Doug Legursky, David Ziegler, Albert McClellan and Montel Glasco sitting out. This afternoon, Darius Passmore joined T.J. Drakeford in a gold (no contact) jersey, while Matt Altobello (running with the ones at guard in place of Brian Leggett, who was at center) took a shot during seven-on-nine that knocked him out and was held out the rest of practice. "It's starting to mount," said Snyder of the players in blue (no practice) and gold jerseys a week into practice. "Concussions, ankles, knees. That's what two-a-days are about and it's why you have to have depth. One guy comes back, then you lose a guy, they are always in and out. We're very thin at center right now." MU's only centers are Leggett, the starting right guard, and true freshman John Bruhin.
Snyder is very high on the players he has at tight end, a position that could be a strength for the second-consecutive year for the Herd and one Herd fans remember producing Mike Natale, Tim Lewis, Shawn Doctor, Eric Ihnat, Mike Bartrum and Jermaine Wiggins. "Cody has a lot of athleticism, he is very, very fast and really good ball skills. He has to become a better blocker," said Snyder of Cody Slate. As a freshman last season, Slate led the Herd and all tight ends in Conference USA in receiving but heard all spring from tight ends Coach Phil Ratliff to become tougher and a better blocking tight end. "Brian Shope looks like a different guy," said Snyder of the senior. "He's in great shape and he's catching the ball as well as he ever has. And he's dropped some weight, some body fat and put on really good weight. I think he looks very good."
The third tight end is former Tennessee signee, Lee Smith, a four-star recruit out of Powell High School who is a freshman with four years to play. "Lee is still in the learning process, but he is a big ol' target. Lee is coming along, doing a pretty good job." Smith is 6-foot-6 and 255-pounds. "He can move a little bit and has good hands." The other tight ends for the Herd include junior Patrick Kouns from Ironton, Ohio, Snyder's high school alma mater. Kouns broke behind the coverage today and turned a medium-depth Brian Anderson pass into a 65-yard touchdown. "Patrick is doing a good job, we are glad to have him on the team." Also at tight true freshman Hunter Hamrick from Nitro.
After one week, with four practices in shirts or shells and three in pads, Snyder is encouraged but cautious about where his 2007 Marshall football team is. "We've got a ways to go, we've got some work to do," said the third year head coach. "The guys are giving a good effort, but it has been so hot. We want to be smart. Cody got overheated and that's why he didn't practice (this afternoon) and we had a couple of guys get overheated this morning. I wanted to get this practice in, and the heat index was allegedly 114, which is very dangerous. We asked the kids and they thought (practice) went well. We were a little smarter and got a better practice this afternoon than this morning, when we may have pushed them a tad bit harder than maybe we should have."
In the team portion of practice, from the 40-yard line, Anderson found Kouns for the long touchdown to start. Bernard Morris completed a pass for 15-yards to fellow senior Shawn Lauzon. Anderson had a miss, then found Lauzon for 11. Mark Cann had a drop by Courtney Edmonson, then was picked off by D.J. Wingate. Beardain hit back to back passes to Marcus Fitzgerald, for nine and ten-yard gains. After a 15-yard gain on a draw by Chubb Small, Chris Smith ran away from pressure for a short gain. In goal-line drills at the 15-yard line, Morris ran for four yards, Small added two more but Zearrick Mathews continued his good play this fall by breaking up a perfect pass from Morris to Lauzon with a perfect defensive play. On fourth down, Anderson found Emmanuel Spann for a touchdown. After the two plays by Traylor and the miss in-between, the final play of goal-line was Smith hitting red-shirt freshman Bryant Milligan on a crossing pattern with a strike for a score. Milligan held on for the eight-yard touchdown despite being covered by two defensive backs.
HERD NOTES: Marshall will open the next three practices to the public. "We will go hard Thursday afternoon (at 3:20) and hard Friday morning (9:40 a.m.), then let up some Friday afternoon (5 p.m.) to get ready for the scrimmage." The Saturday scrimmage will be closed to the public...With the depth problems, some scout squad players got more time than expected in team. Brent Traylor, a red-shirt freshman walk-on from Wheeling, had a quarterback pressure and near sack on one play during goal-line, causing Anderson to throw the ball away. Following an incompletion by Wesley Beardain, Traylor had a five-yard tackle for loss of Chubb Small...At 3 p.m., the temp was 95 and the feels-like was 100 at www.weather.com for Huntington. At 4 p.m., it hit 95 with a heat index of 106, then at 5 p.m., the temp was record tying 98-degrees (set in 1999) and a 106 heat index.