Herd Notebook: Clinic Success, Scrimmage Sat

The Herd is in the final lap of preparing for the opener next Saturday, September 1, at Miami against the Hurricanes at high Noon. Marshall head coach Mark Snyder split his team into offense and defense, with scout teams to work against, at Thursday's practice for the first time as MU continues to work on itself, but also beginning on the field to turn attention to Miami.

At Thursday's practice for Marshall, temperatures were once again at near-record levels with a 97-degree start and a feel-like of 101, while heat levels on the FieldTurf were even higher than that. But the team responded with a good day of work, according to Snyder. "We had a good workout today," said Snyder. "It was a good rebound from Wednesday, when even I hit the wall in the high heat." David Ziegler continued his return from shoulder surgery, lining up at right guard opposite red-shirt freshman Josh Evans at left guard where Ziegler started last season. Evans got the work in the spring, but coaches will have a decision to make about who starts when Ziegler's fellow senior, center Doug Legursky, makes his return next week to practice. That will move Brian Leggett back to right guard, where he started last year instead of center where he has worked for two weeks while Legursky mended. Marshall coaches admit, the work for all the linemen at various positions has been great for depth, but are looking forward to putting the starting five on the field Monday.

While passing the ball was not as sharp on Wednesday as Snyder would have liked, on Thursday both Bernard Morris and Brian Anderson were very good in skeleton and team. Passes were spread around to a number of backs and receivers, including long passes of 15-or-more yards to fullback Matt Parkhurst, tight end Cody Slate and Courtney Edmonson, including one of over 30 yards to the sophomore wide out.The two combined for 6-of-10 touchdowns in the red-zone, and two of the misses were very nice passes broken up by true freshmen corners DeQuan Bembry and D.J. Wingate and the other two were thrown away due to good coverage by defense.

Kelvin Turner continued his climb back into the coach's good graces at tailback by catching the ball well out of the backfield and running strong in team, while true freshman Mark Cann and sophomore Wesley Beardain threw as well as senior Morris and red-shirt Anderson at quarterback. Georgia Tech transfer Jonathan Garner, who must sit out in 2007 and will have two seasons left to play in 2008-09, was moved to the scout team as expected. While the defense seems set in the front seven, both the starters and the backups, the safties are still unsettled for starters and backups between C.J. Spillman, Aaron Johnson, John Saunders, Jon Moravec and Phillip Gamble. Ashton Hall and J.J. Johnson will be the corners, although it is hoped Zearrick Mathews will return for Conference USA games, starting October 2 at Memphis.

Thursday night, Herd coaches had a different focus when it was time for the 18th annual MU Football Women's Clinic in the Big Green Room at the stadium. Over 200 women from around the Tri-State showed up for instruction by the MU coaches and the always popular equipment demonstration. Senior receiver Shawn Lauzon, red-shirt freshman defensive lineman Chad Clay and true freshman running back Robert Henry removed gloves, shoulder pads, jerseys, UnderArmor t-shirts, thigh and knee pads in demonstrating the nearly $1,000 per player it takes to dress out the 105 members of the Marshall football team. Three ladies were very disappointed to find out assistant equipment manager Zach Littleton wanted back the $105 game jerseys taken off the players, with help from the women in the front rows.

Mark Gale, assistant athletic director for football at Marshall, was in charge of his 18th Women's Clinic, working as an assistant coach for both Jim Donnan and Bob Pruett. "We started this in 1990, in our first spring here with Coach Donnan," said Gale. "We had to hold the first two at the Radisson Hotel, because we didn't have this facility. We didn't have meeting rooms or anything." The Herd played at Fairfield Stadium in 1990, and the coaches were stacked into three rooms in Gullickson Hall, the MU Physical Education building. It was a humble beginning for this program that has become so popular. "That first year, we had maybe 42 or 43 women and this year it's well over 200. I think its an opportunity to see us (the football staff) in a different environment, a more relaxed environment. They are having fun and we're having fun. They are obviously die-hard fans, and this is about giving back to them to those who can't attend Quarterback Club meetings or Big Green meeting. If they can each leave with one thing they didn't know before about football, it's worth it."

Snyder echoed Gale. "It's always important to educate the women in our lives and I think every man wishes he could go home and have a long conversation with their wives or girlfriends about their favoright sport, and that's what we're doing here tonight, Have a little fun, poke fun at one and other (among the coaches) and educate these women about football." Snyder had never come across a clinic like this in stops at Central Florida, Youngstown State, Minnesota and Ohio State. "Mark Gale came to me and said they had this every year. I wondered about it a little bit, but I now absolutely enjoy it every year. It's a neat thing. The ladies enjoy it and our staff enjoys it."

NOTES: Marshall will hold a light workout on Friday, then a closed "Dress Rehersal" scrimmage on Saturday. The team will put coaches in the press box and on the sidelines, just like they will be on game day with headsets. All practices will be closed until further notice to the public. The team will go starters versus scout team to work on situations that arise in every game: kicking, punting, returns, quick turnarounds, calling in plays from the sidelines and dealing with the heat the Herd can expect at Miami on the game day sidelines. The Herd will be in game week practice mode starting on Monday, and will depart Friday for Miami...Marshall fans have two events for Saturday. The second annual Marshall-West Virginia Combined Tailgate is Saturday from 4-8 p.m. behind the Putnam County Courthouse in Winfield. This is an alcohol-free event, with many food and entertainment vendors and there is no admission charge, as parking is first-come, first-served. WRVC 930 AM, ESPN Radio for the Tri-State, will be there with Herd Insider 2007 Pocket Guides for football, the August editions of the Herd Insider magazine and free WRVC coffee mugs...Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., the Huntington Quarterback Club has its annual fundraiser at the MU Memorial Student Union. There will be limited tickets available at the door for $100 each, and that includes membership in the QB Club which meets every Tuesday at the Pullman Plaza Hotel. Prizes include a weekend at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulpher Springs, airline tickets, a trip to the Snowshoe Resort in Pocahontas County, free meals at local restaurants and cash prizes. Live entertainment by the Santa Cruz band. For information, call the MU football offices, 304-696-6464...Fans of football who cannot wait for next Thursday when the Division I season kicks off can catch some Division II football for free, compliments of Wendy's International in the area. You can pickup free tickets for the University of Charleston hosting Tusculum College at 1 p.m. in Charleston, W.Va., at University of Charleston Stadium/Laidley Field. The Golden Eagles of UC are hoping to set a new attendance record for its school and the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, topping last year's promotion by FasCheck that drew over 14,200 to the facility that seats 18,600.

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