Marshall started later than camp, and 3:20 p.m. practices became 4 p.m. with the start of classes at Marshall forcing meetings and training room time to start a bit later in the day than in camp. Still, the buzz was good early in practice as Marty Biagi, the Herd's starting punter who was injured last spring, was out in shells and shorts. Biagi nailed the first punt of the day 50 yards, a high, spiraling kick that was a huge relief to the player. "That was great, I really needed that," said the junior from Shelbyville, Ky. "I am about 75-80 percent back, and I am kicking with no pain in the leg. It really great to be back handling snaps. My mom could only toss so many to me back home when I was working out on my own."
Biagi, who does not have a time-table for returning but seems to think he is way ahead of the original prognosis of November 1st, knows not to rush. "That's the trick, is to know when is not too early that I have a set-back. I'll keep checking with the doctor and when he says go, I'll be ready." Until then, the Marshall punting will be done by senior place kicker Anthony Binswanger. In team punt, Binswanger nailed back-to-back punts of 60 and 70 yards from his own 30-yard line and seems to be comfortable with the role. He continued to kick well on extra-points and field goals, and Biagi returned to holding duties today for Binwanger during that drill.
Snyder is happy with the job Binswanger is doing at this point. "Bins is hitting his field goals and it looks like his confidence is back," said Snyder. "Kicking is like our golf games. The more confident you are, the better you hit it. Your sand (wedge) from 80 is not as good as from 15 yards away. He's got a howitzer for a leg." Snyder was also pleased with the return of many players today, as predicted. "I told you we'd be healthy," said Snyder. "We got everybody back except Doug." Doug Legursky will be held out of drills until next Monday, but the Rimington candidate would play if needed this week. Also out for four-to-six weeks is cornerback Zearrick Mathews, who suffer a break in his forearm in the scrimmage.
Returning today from various aliments were Daniel Baldridge, Courtney Edmonson, Darius Passmore and Montel Glasco, while David Ziegler returned towards the end of last week. Josh Evans, who had won Ziegler's left guard spot in the spring, was also back with a bright green cast to protect his broken left hand. Evans told Gary Fauber of Beckley's The Register-Herald, "I just broke the fourth metacarpal back there. They made me sit out ten days. I (got) a cast on it Monday so I can start (practicing again)."
J.J. Johnson was moved into the starting corner opposite of sophomore Ashton Hall. Johnson started all 12 games at corner last season, and two the year before as a true freshman. He has 108 tackles in his career, 71 of those solos, 11 passes broken up, three forced fumbles and one recovered. He also had two interceptions last season and returned a blocked punt 17 yards for a touchdown against Kansas State for the Herd's only score in a 23-7 loss in Manhattan, Ks. Snyder had said both Matthews and Johnson were having great camps last week.
The cornerbacks are coming along, according to the coach. "They are getting better. Instead of having a pair and a spare, we got a pair now." The starting corners will be Johnson and Hall, while the second corners are freshman DeQuan Bembry and either of two fellow frosh in D.J. Wingate and T.J. Drakeford. "We had to play Ashton last year (as a freshman) and J.J. the year before that. It's going to do nothing but help them, but in the short term they have to be on call. They are just one injury away from playing. They are one play away. If something would happen to Aaron Johnson, then one of them would have to go in because J.J. would go to nickel. That's why they come to play big-time college football, to get a chance to play, and they had better make the most of it for the first two or three games until 'Z' (Matthews) gets back. Then maybe we'll have a pair and a pair instead of a pair and a spare."
In today's practice, Snyder had the Herd work on things they saw wrong while breaking down the scrimmage film. "We had a good learning day today," said Snyder. "Watching the film, there were a lot of lessons to be learned in there. We came back today and worked on some things we didn't do so well in the scrimmage and tomorrow, we will do the same things." Snyder liked much of what he watched in the film. "There were a lot of good things. There were a lot of bad things. We are going to dwell on the good things. We did some things very well. Some things to work on, but did some things very well. I think we're getting better as a team."
NOTES: The Herd cranked the music up on the speakers today, to force better concentration in the red-zone. Brian Anderson led the first team on a seven-play drive from the 32-yard line that ended practice, and the Lenny Kravitz song, with a five yard toss for touchdown to senior wide out Shawn Lauzon. Anderson hit 3-of-3 in that drill, bouncing back from a tough Saturday scrimmage...Bernard Morris was stopped on his turn on third down and seven, but Binswanger nailed a 45-yard field goal for 10 points on the day in the red-zone...Herd coaches will sit down this coming weekend and set up the depth chart, but Snyder does not expect to release that item until Wednesday before Miami. This week is key for players trying to make the 70-man travel roster to head to the Orange Bowl for the opener with the Hurricanes of Miami on Sept. 1 at Noon...The MU Football Women's Clinic is Thursday in the Big Green Room at the stadium. Call Mark Gale for information on the event, 304-696-2408, which will be hosted by Rocky Smith of "Rocky and Rod's Radio Ranch" on WDGG, "The Dawg, 93.7 FM" in Huntington, the number one station in the market.