Tuesday Gets Marshall On Field First Time '08

Marshall got its roster onto the field and Mark Snyder was thrilled by the sight of three defensive groups able to rotate in and out of the team portion of practice No. 1 for the Thundering Herd in 2008. "How about that," said Snyder, who at times could barely field one healthy unit in 2007, as he raced to talk the Herd up to a group at a men's club following practice.

The practice ran 28 periods, the depth numbers were good, the conditioning was great and Marshall hit the ground running about as well as any club has in the history of first August practices. "It looks like we're a little more athletic, a little bit further along than I thought," said Snyder about day one on the field for practice. "It's a great feeling. Conditioning was good, we went a little long (with two and one-half hours of practice) but depth has something to do with that."

Marshall coach Mark Snyder, shown speaking with his team back in 2005, spoke with the team, then the media and then a Huntington men's group after getting day one in on the FieldTurf of the Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Tuesday. file photo by Greg Perry, Herd Insider

Snyder also is impressed with the talented freshmen the coaching staff has brought in, but is finally able to handle freshmen like most other schools do…look them over, quickly decide if any can help this year then red-shirt the rest. "They are going have to show us (they can play), they can't make many mistakes. That's typically the way it is at most schools. When you come in as a freshman, you have a very small margin for error because we have depth. The guys that can come in and pick it up, they get reps and they are the guys you see on Saturday."

One thing that never changes is worries for coaches about freshmen becoming homesick, lonely or other problems that coming with many of them leaving home for the first time. "It's hard, anytime there is change," said Snyder. "First time away from Mom and Dad, girlfriend, sleeping in a new bed, it's a little rough. They took away our three days where we could love them up a little bit but, conversely, we get them for the summer which is a good thing. We get a whole month to get their feet wet." Freshmen used to come in three days early for indoctrination and practices with just the frosh to get acclimated. Now, they come in with the upper classmen, but schools can, and do, bring them in for the second summer term to get familiar with the campus, take one or two classes to get a head start academically and can workout with the strength coach and teammates preparing for the season all during July.

Snyder thought the summer workouts his team did three days a week, on their own, let them get off to a fast start today. "We're further along than I anticipated, and that's because they got together and worked hard all summer. I think it helps everything." One player who looked like he did in the spring, in Snyder's estimation and most of the media's, was red-shirt freshman Mark Cann. Cann is the No. 1 quarterback coming into fall camp and didn't do anything today to dispel that thought with two very well thrown deep balls to senior wide out Darius Passmore and junior tight end Cody Slate. "He looked to me like he did in the spring," said the head coach, a former quarterback himself at nearby Ironton (Ohio) High School and in junior college, where Snyder won a national title. "I am happy he knows who his play-makers are, how about that? On one-on-one match-ups, you got to win that with those guys."

The coaches and their players seem to feel there is something special in the air for the team this season, and they are just not excited about a Presidential candidate visiting MU on Wednesday. John McCain will make a closed to the public stop at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Wednesday morning to visit with the players and coaches, before moving on to another stop in Ohio. It is the third visit to the Mountain State for the Republican Senator from Arizona.

"Anytime you get a national figure in here, it's exciting for our young student-athletes," said Snyder of the visit by McCain. "It's very, very exciting and we would welcome Senator Obama, too." Illinois Senator Barack Obama is the Democratic choice in the November election for President. "Anytime you get a national figure, non-political…who cares who it is, be it a movie star, an athlete, someone in politics, a star per say, that's a heck of a thing." Marshall's players, coaches and staff will get the chance to meet McCain, but the event is closed to the general public, and the media in general, and will be covered by a pool of reporters, some of whom will ride the McCain campaign bus from Charleston, W.Va. to Jackson, Ohio to cover both stops, the norm in covering the President or candidates for the highest office in the land.

Chad Pennington, Randy Moss, and McG rallied the fans at the 2006 Spring Football Game, and behind the trio is Matthew McConaughey, star of "We Are Marshall." Sen. John McCain will join these stars as speakers to the Thundering Herd team on Wednesday, August 6, when he stops by the Joan C. Edwards Stadium. file photo by Greg Perry, Herd Insider

Marshall players have met with other celebrities since Mark Snyder took over in 2005, including West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin; the star of "We Are Marshall," Matthew McConaughey, and the director, McG; former Marshall coaches "Red" Dawson and Jack Lengyel, who were the coaches of the 1971 "Young" Thundering Herd the Marshall movie were based upon; Rick Meckstroth, a member of the Herd from 1970-73 during the time of the crash and re-birth of the program; and former Marshall players who have become stars in the National Football League like Troy Brown, Mike Bartrum, Randy Moss, Chad Pennington and Mike Barber, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and a teammate of Snyder's in 1987.

Darius Marshall looked for running room during practice last season and will do more of the same when the Herd puts on the pads for the first time on Saturday. The 3 p.m. workout on August 9 is the only workout open to the public this week. file photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Marshall will practice once on Wednesday afternoon, then twice on Thursday and once on Friday, all of which are closed to the public. Saturday at 3 p.m. will be open to the public, and it will also be the first day of full pads for the team. A fan favorite, the "Hoot-N-Holler" or Oklahoma drill will be run, although Snyder hinted it might be scaled down along with other hitting this fall in an effort to get the "best" players to the game. Marshall lost a huge number of starters to injury last season. The Oklahoma drill is a 3-on-3 linemen drill with a runner and a defensive back. The offense is put in an 8-by-8 square foot cube of turf, and has four downs to drive for a touchdown. Terrell Edwards suffered a concussion in last year's drill.

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