Herd Goes Shells, Readies For Saturday

Marshall head coach Mark Snyder has been very smart for this August, about injuries, about practice length and about the amount of contact in an effort to avoid the type of August the Herd endured last year, losing Albert McClellan and any other number of players to short and long-term injuries. Snyder and his staff are on the same page this year about getting the best players to game day.

That was apparent today when Mark Snyder cut back on the Herd's Friday morning workout, limiting the team to shoulder pads and helmets for a crisp 21-period workout. The team will have a pre-game closed practice this afternoon at 5 p.m., in jerseys and helmets just like the day before any game, and work heavily on special teams before Saturday's full-go, and officiated, scrimmage. The team will hit the field around 10 a.m. and start the scrimmage about 10:30 a.m., and this is open to the public.

Marshall will also host "Choose-A-Seat" Day on Saturday morning, and available seats will be marked for sale as season tickets by the Marshall Ticket Office staff, according to Aaron Goebbels, Marshall's Assistant Athletic Director for Ticketing. ESPN Radio will be at the stadium at 9 a.m., handing out the newest edition of the Herd Insider magazine to fans, with Albert McClellan on the cover, as well as copies of the Herd Insider 2008 Pocket Guide, with Cody Slate on the cover. There will be live look-ins from practice on "The Dawg, 93.7 FM" starting at 10 a.m.

Snyder has some ideas about what he wants accomplished at the scrimmage, but was going to meet with his staff following Friday morning's workout to discuss what the public will see. Admittedly, there will be plenty of blocking and tackling but the offensive and defensive schemes will be rather vanilla, according to the coach. "We are going to go in and talk about it," said Snyder of setting up the scrimmage with his staff after meeting the media. "It will be a typical Thursday afternoon practice this afternoon, lots of special teams, on-sides kick, hand's team, coming out about five (p.m.)." The media does not usually cover Thursday's so it will be a sneak peek for the press box crowd this afternoon.

The middle section of the seating at the stadium on the West side of the Joan C. Edwards Stadium, sections 110 and 112, will be reserved for the Quarterback Club members on Saturday, much as last week was held for Big Green members. "It will be all Quarterback Club members in the prime seating," said Snyder, "and there will be an opportunity to become a Quarterback Club member, or buy a ticket for our raffle." The reverse raffle, one of the club's biggest fund-raisers, will be held at the Memorial Student Center on August 23, and tickets are $100 for individual tickets, $150 for couples.

"We took the pads off of them," said Snyder of today's work in shells, avoiding "dead" legs that all teams get about the second week of August camp. There may be some surprises for everyone at the scrimmage on Saturday, when it comes to the depth chart. "Yes, there could be," said the coach with a smile. "Yes." There are position battles at offensive and defensive tackle, although the defensive side will rotate a good number of players at all positions, although Snyder is looking more on the offensive side, at least on Friday morning, when thinking about Saturday's depth chart battles.

"Probably the offensive tackle position, and Brian Anderson has been doing a good job," said Snyder, complimenting the Louisville, Ky. sophomore for the second-consecutive day. "Quarterback and tackle, those are the two most competitive position (battles) right now, because you've seen we are going to play a lot of people on defense. They are going to play (whether a starter or not on defense), like receiver. The biggest battle is the tackle position."

That would include current No. 1 tackles in freshmen red-shirts Charles Wood, or C.J., and Ryan Tillman battling with No. 2, but former starters in 2007, junior Daniel Baldridge, or "Buck" who missed all spring with an injury, and sophomore Brandon Campbell, who seems to have battled his way out of the coaching "dog house" and back into the starting tackle battle. Baldridge, 6-foot-9, 306-pounds, started every game at right tackle last year and Campbell (6-foot-5, 310-pounds) started two games at left tackle while Woods (6-foot-5, 288-pounds) and Tillman (6-foot-5, 282-pounds) sat as true frosh.

Quarterback seemed to be a foregone conclusion with Mark Cann, the red-shirt freshman coming out of spring as the No. 1, but sophomore Brian Anderson, who started verses New Hampshire and played at Miami and in three other games, has really found his legs this week in new offensive coordinator John Shannon's offense. "Brian has really heated up Mark this week," said Snyder, happy with the competition. "I've been pleasantly surprised. It will be a big scrimmage for Mark, and Brian, and those tackles. We'll be a little bit vanilla, play a lot of younger guys and be smart with our older guys. There's your surprise. I've already made that decision but they (the staff) don't know it yet."

Penalties, and the clock management of the new :40 clock, will also be hurdles for the team to face for the first time on Saturday. "Hopefully, they (the officials) will bring someone to run the clock with them. It's the new rule, but I don't know who it is." The new rules also changed the sideline warning, with a five-yard penalty for the first infraction. Strength coach Mike Cochran is the "get-back" coach, assisted by Scott Wilks, his assistant and former third-generation player. "It won't be really long tomorrow."

NOTES: In saving legs for this afternoon, freshman kicker Tyler Warner of Parkersburg (W.Va.) High School got a lot of the morning place kicking as junior Craig Rantanamorn watched. Marshall also was breaking in a new holder in kicker Cody Ochoa, just in case Emmanuel Spann was injured at receiver. Warner hit from 44, then Rantanamorn missed from 42 on a tough placement by Ochoa but rebounded with a 42-yard field goal good from 50-plus. Warner came back and nailed a 43-yard attempt out of Spann's hold as well as a 29-yard attempt, but missed two wide right from the left hash, pulling the ball too much...Ian Hoskins ran on the side today, and John Bruhin was back in his boot, but there were no other changes in injuries. Hoskins will be one of those older players who Snyder will by "smart" with, and the senior will not scrimmage as there are a number of young tackles on defense, including sophomores Johnny Jones, Delvin Johnson, Eric Vint and Brandon Bullock, who will be long looks Saturday...Wesley Beardain returned to practice yesterday, and Jo Jo Cox was back in drills with the running backs, the big wrap off his hand and with gloves on both today...Marshall was repairing lights on the Sam Hood Field today, getting the soccer pitch ready for exhibitions and practice. The northeast tower of the football stadium also has two lights out, the only lights needing changed...the facility staff is getting the stadium power-washed this week, occasionally blasting an unsuspecting media members vehicle. My turn was Wednesday, Chuck Landon's was today.

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