What was not known is how good the young freshmen on the offensive and defensive lines would be in game situations, how much improved kicker Anthony Binswanger is and how good the depth is on both sides of the ball. All in all, Snyder was very pleased with Saturday's 125-play scrimmage.
The offense won the scrimmage, 66-41, and gets to wear the green jerseys next week for practice. "I thought it was crisp. I saw some good hitting, I saw some good things and some bad things," said Snyder of Saturday's workout, "about what you would expect. We've still got lots of work to do. Today, we got a lot of plays in and I was fairly pleased." Although the coach would prefer to look at video of today's scrimmage before praising many players, some did jump out at the third-year head man for Marshall, including a true freshman running back. "Darius Marshall would be one off the top of my head…he just keeps coming on and coming on. Maurice Kitchens showed up for me today, he really showed up. Mike Janac did a couple of good things today. Passmore had a good day, Cody had a good day, he dropped a ball that he should not have dropped and Darius (Passmore) dropped a ball he should not have dropped. Bernie threw one he shouldn't have thrown. I thought the corners did a good job today, but a little disappointed with the safeties. And too many penalties, they will kill us. We ran the ball well today, and when we get someone down and tired, we have to drive it home and that will be the emphasis on Monday."
Marshall is a true freshman running back from Milledgeville, Ga., and, in a breakout performance, scored the only two touchdowns of the day. He rushed 19 times for 75 yards, caught two passes for 12 more yards (losing ten more on a hold down the field) and scored from the one-yard line and three yards out. Chubb Small, a junior, led all rushers with 16 carries for 94 yards, including an explosive 42 yard burst in the second half. "Marshall showed the same things he has showed all week. Chubb had a good day, but Kelvin (Turner) put the ball on the turf. We can't have that, so I will go ahead and tell you Darius will run with the ones, Chubb with the twos and Kelvin will go to the threes," said Snyder.Marshall was happy with the blocking he got and his performance in the scrimmage, his first with the Herd. "Anytime you can contribute to the team in a positive way, I think that is good," said Marshall. "The O-line did a wonderful job, they really opened the holes with three starters down, but the replacements came in and did a great job blocking. They worked hard in the weight room, Coach Cummings works them hard in the film room and now they are getting the job done. We'll progress, not regress, hopefully."
The Herd starting offensive line was senior John Inman and sophomore Daniel Baldridge at tackles, but the guards were red-shirt freshmen Chad Schoefield and Brandon Campbell, with starting right guard Brian Leggett running center. Doug Legursky, Matt Altobello, David Ziegler and Josh Evans all sat out the scrimmage from the offensive line, as did receiver Courtney Edmonson. Shawn Lauzon replaced him at wide out.
Marshall is using the experience of Turner and Small to help him become a collegiate running back. "I look up to the older guys, Kevin and Chubb. They help me on the field at practice, on cuts and how the holes will open, plus off the field. Learning pass protection, that is the hardest part. The running comes naturally, the linemen will get the job done up there, and its how you read and how you run. Picking up the blitz, and running routes, you have to learn that because it is a major part of the game. The main thing for me is protecting the quarterback, because the running will come naturally."
Kelvin Turner finished the day with eight carries for 48 yards, but had a fumble, forced by Maurice Kitchens and recovered by C.J. Spillman, which turned into a defensive touchdown on a 13-yard return. Terrell Edwards, who just returned to practice Friday evening after a concussion on Tuesday, had 13 carries for 68 yards in his first live action since the big hit on John Saunders in "Hoot-N-Holler."
Passing the ball, the Herd had good performances for most all of the six quarterbacks on the roster. Starter Bernard Morris hit 6-of-10 for 52 yards and no interceptions. He had a long of 15 yards to Cody Slate, plus rushed five times for three yards (losing 15 yards in two sacks). Brian Anderson was 12-of-15 passing, with an interception by Aaron Johnson at the five-yard line on a pass that skipped off the hands of Darius Passmore, and Anderson was tackled once for a three-yard loss while running the ball. Passmore led the first team with four catches for 55 yards, including a spectacular catch on a 41-yard pass under thrown a bit by Anderson. Passmore came back for the ball and out-jumped Johnson and Zearrick Mathews for the ball, in Randy Moss-fashion, to gain a first down at the three-yard line for the junior wearing Moss' number 88. He also rushed one time for 15 additional yards. Slate had three receptions for 62 yards.
On the second team, sophomore Wesley Beardain had a nice day of passing with 4-of-6 for 102 yards behind a line that contained true frosh C.J. Wood, Ryan Tillman and Branden Curry on the front. They allowed only one sack of Beardain, whose favorite target was junior E.J. Wynn, who had five receptions for 85 yards to lead all receivers in number of catches and yards on the day. Wynn had one turnover when he was stripped at the end of a long completion by corner DeQuan Bembry and the ball was recovered by Phillip Gamble. Also with the twos, red-shirt freshman Bryant Milligan caught two for 36 yards and rushed four times for nine yards.
When Morris was asked how the day was, he replied quickly, "It's hot," but overall was pretty happy with his, and the offense's performance. "The day went pretty good. We had one turnover (on the ones), and almost another by me, but it went pretty good. We've got a lot of guys on the field who know what they are doing and a lot of young guys who are coming in and surprising people, like Darius Marshall. Once he gets the ball in his hand, he makes a cut then gets what he can get."
"We've got some guys down on the offensive line, but the young guys stepped up. They know the playbooks, what we are trying to do attacking the defense and we don't lose a step with the twos or threes in there. It's a good thing to have some young guys who got into those playbooks. If you are a two or a three, you are only one or two plays from coming in, and when they get a chance they came to play."
Morris was also impressed with Anderson's performance, splitting reps with the red-shirt freshman on the first team. "Brian is a smart guy. He came in and (when he) was ID-ing (the defense) from the first day, we knew he had a gift," said the senior QB. He hopes to help Anderson and the other young quarterbacks avoid some of the problems he has had. "I can sit down with him and make sure he doesn't make the same mistakes I did once he is out there on Saturdays. It's good to have a guy to push you. I'm a senior, I can't make too many mistakes because Coach Snyder is not going to go for that. We've been, what, four and seven and five and seven…it's time to get us back to a bowl game and have a winning season. With the young guys coming in, I think we can get there this year."
The other quarterbacks included freshman Mark Cann hitting his first three passes and ending 3-for-6 for 17 yards and rushing for 15 yards on three carries. Fellow freshman Chris Smith was a perfect 3-of-3 for 20 yards. Ga. Tech transfer Jonathan Garner was 0-for-2 in limited action. On the defensive side, Janac had a big day in subbing for injured starter Albert McClellan, who is sidelined for the season with an ACL tear. Janac recorded five tackles, three of those tackles for loss for minus-19 yards, recorded two sacks for minus-15 yards and broke up a pass he nearly intercepted. He and McClellan are very close friends.
"Albert is like a big brother to me, so when that happened it really hit me," said the red-shirt freshman from Miami. "I've got to step my game up. At end, we have Vinny (Curry), DeMetrius (Thompson) and Johnny (Jones)…Johnny, he is going to be a real good player. Just like me (last year), it will take them a while to learn, but now they have got to learn faster to help us this year. I just trying to fall in with the rest of the defense, so I'm listening to Jake (John Jacobs) and Ryland (Wilson) and Tink (Byron Tinker) so I'll know what to do."
The young defensive ends played fairly well. Vinny Curry had four tackles, Johnny Jones (who returned from injury today) had three tackles, a tackle for a nine-yard loss and a quarterback pressure while DeMetrius Thompson had two tackles and a quarterback pressure. Freshman tackle Shane Moore also returned today from sitting out this week and had four tackles and a three-yard tackle for loss. Leading the defense in tackles was sophomore James Burkes, from Capital High School, who had eight stops for the second team to go with a one-yard tackle for loss and quarterback pressure. Linebacker Antwan Booker had six tackles, as did fellow ‘backer and sophomore Mario Harvey, who recorded a three-yard tackle for loss. Booker and Harvey sat out last season with academic concerns.
Also with six tackles were safeties John Sanders (one-yard tackle for loss) and Aaron Johnson, who also broke up a pass and had a 41-yard return on his interception of Anderson. Maurice Kitchens recorded six tackles, two tackles for loss for minus-10 yards and forced two fumbles, including the ball Ashton Hall returned for a 13-yard score. To have Coach Snyder mention him as a player who stood out in the scrimmage was very big for the junior from Roanoke, Va. "Trust me, feeling pretty good (about Coach Snyder's praise) is not the right word but for now it will have to do, I just can't fill in those blanks, but it makes you feel pretty good," said Kitchens. "Every practice leads up to something else, like Friday did to today. On Monday, we have to get back in the grind of two-a-days, so every practice is important, whether scrimmage or in shorts. Individually, I had some chances where I could have made a bigger impact. But as a team, we jelled pretty well and I think we will be straight for this upcoming year."
Players with at least five tackles include junior corner J.J. Johnson, newly-moved safety Kevin Perry (plus a QB pressure), soph corner Zearrick Mathews (plus a pass broken up, with at least one in every practice this week), Janac and junior linebacker Josh Johnson. The starting middle linebacker also had two tackles for four yards in losses, but feels both he and the defensive unit has room to improve with three weeks until the opener with Miami. "We had to take it up a notch, we have a few players hurt right now," said Johnson, in his second year with the Herd after signing with Georgia then transferring to Georgia Military. "The main things we focused on today was tackling and reading our keys right. I wasn't very pleased with the tackling (for the first live scrimmage), it was just alright. I flew around today, but I was not pleased with where I was today. It's nowhere near where I want to be for the first game. Even before Albert went down, we were challenging ourselves as a defense to take it up a notch, and now we have to show we are not a one-man team. Mike Janac and John Jacobs have to step up."
NOTES: Marcus Moresea, a senior from Ravenswood, W.Va., who has not lettered, was the long snapper on all of Anthony Binswanger extra-points and field goals. He had one bad snap that was high and may have caused the senior kickers only miss (from 25 yards), as Binswanger was 2-for-2 on extra-points and hit five-of-six field goals. He hit from 21, 46, 45, 27 and 34 yards...Marshall threw the ball 42 times, completing 28 for 67 percent, and had 337 yards through the air. The running game had 73 carries for 310 yards, an average of 4.2 per carry, and both touchdowns came on the ground...If there was a real downer for the scrimmage, it was the poor punter in the pre-scrimmage kicking. Neither Jake Fields or Cody Ochoa had a good day...Marshall will have Saturday evening and all day Sunday off, before gathering to look at today's scrimmage Sunday evening...The Herd will get back to practice on Monday with two practices and will also practice twice on Wednesday and Friday of this week. Single workouts are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday...No practices have been opened to the public as of this time. Coming up this week for Herd fans, however, is the tenth annual "Paint The Capital City Green" at the Charleston Embassy Suites on Wednesday, August 15, at 6 p.m. Coach Mark Snyder and some senior players will be in attendance, as will new head men's basketball coach Donnie Jones. President Stephen Kopp, Director of Athletics Bob Marcum, head women's basketball coach Royce Chadwick, the MU "Marching Thunder" band and many other coaches, players and MU officials will be in attendance. Tickets are $35 each, call 696-7138 or 866-443-7310 for information.