Practice was crisp and the first team worked against the second team, as Snyder had done with the morning workout. The Herd will practice once on Tuesday, then twice Wednesday. The second practice that day, at about 3:20 p.m., will be a special teams scrimmage and be open to the public.
Punting remains a big question mark for the 2007 Herd, with Marty Biagi out until sometime during the season. As a red-shirt freshman, Biagi averaged 38.4 yards per punt in 2005 with a long of 56 yards and 15 punts of 61 downed inside the 20-yard line.
"It's a concern," said Snyder after Monday's workout. While the two freshmen, Jake Fields and Cody Ochoa, punted well before this afternoon's practice, they did not have a punt over 30 yards in limited action on Saturday. "It's something we have to keep working on." Marshall will also kick field goals in the scrimmage, and Anthony Binswanger was nearly perfect on Saturday when he hit five of six and the only miss came on a high snap. He nailed a 40-plus field goal at the end of today's workout in what Snyder calls, "Win The Game."
Offensive line is a concern, but just in the sense that four possible starters missed the scrimmage Saturday. Snyder, however, finds a silver lining in having to use Chad Schoefield and Brandon Campbell, usually a tackle, as guards running beside guard Brian Leggett at center with the first team in Saturday's and Monday's workouts. "They have got a long way to go, but they are getting quality reps. Today's practice will give them some real learning (in the film room)," said Sndyer. "They are running the gamet. The guy that's out is Doug (Legursky)...Doug knows what he is doing, so it is helping us to move people around in case of injury. They are getting great teaching reps. Brandon has been playing tackle, he gets a little taste of it and can move back when (Matt) Altobello gets back. Alto will be back Tuesday." Also out are starting left guard David Ziegler, recovering from shoulder surgery, and his back-up Josh Evans, who got all the reps with the first team in the spring and up until he was hurt towards the end of last week.
One of the things the offensive line takes pride in is the fact they can play anywhere or any of the positions in offensive line coach Mike Cummings scheme. John Inman was a starting guard two years ago, then subbed at both guards and both tackles extensively last season and is now the starting left tackle. Snyder loves that versatility. "That's what you've gotta have. When you get a bunch of older guys that can play a lot of position, you've got a chance to be real good."
The coach also talked about the battle for the cornerback position and Snyder said it is under review. "Unsure right now, I don't know where we are at. We have a lot of work to do. We have guys who have played. They have got to continue to get better." One of those players who have played is Zearrick Mathews, who started all 12 games last year as a red-shirt freshman. Unofficially, he has knocked away pass every practice the Herd has had since putting on pads a week ago Tuesday. "Zearrick has had a really good camp. J.J. Johnson has had a good camp, Ashton Hall has had a good camp. I'll temper that with I don't know if we're any good. It's hard to tell without playing somebody." Johnson is a junior who also started 12 games last year and has played in 23 games in his career.
Hall had two starts last season, but he has been running with the ones most days during camp. Hall is 5-foot-10, 183-pounds and had one interception and one pass broken up to go with 16 total tackles last season. Johnson is 5-foot-11, 180-pounds. In two seasons, he has 108 total tackles, 71 of those unassisted, two interceptions and 11 passes broken up. He recorded ten of those break ups last year. Matthews is 5-11, 165-pounds and earned Conference USA All-Freshman team honors last season. He had 43 tackles (24 solo), six break ups and his one interception was returned for a 44-yard touchdown against Tulane in the Herd win over the Green Wave.
Fans will have two events this week. Wednesday is Paint the Capital City Green at the Charleston Embassy Suites, an event that is always sold out. Satuday, MU will host an open scrimmage in conjunction with "Choose-A-Seat" day at the scrimmage. Less than 4,000 season tickets remain in the best selling year in stadium history. Call 1-800-THE HERD for information on tickets.