Aug. 4, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Doc Holliday said August for his football team will be a lot like September, October and November.
What the third-year coach meant is that Marshall’s preseason drills – like the 12-game regular season – will be all about competition.
“We have competition, good competition,” Holliday said Friday. “The best thing in the world you can have is where every day in practice, they’ve got to go out and compete, where nobody can hold you hostage.
“We’ve gotten to the point where there’s going to be a lot of competition. There was zero my first year (2010). This is the first time since I’ve been here that I think there’s going to be competition at just about every position, which has to be a good thing.”
The Thundering Herd reports back to campus Sunday, and workouts on the FieldTurf at Edwards Stadium begin Monday with four straight days of split-squad work before the pads are donned next Friday (Aug. 10). The first two weeks of Monday-Friday (through Aug. 17) workouts are open to the public (see news release on fall camp schedule on HerdZone.com).
The scrimmage on Saturday, August 11 is open only to Big Green members, 2012 season ticket holders and those participating in the Choose-A-Seat promotion, which will run from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Those wishing to gain admittance to the scrimmage may do so by joining the Big Green and/or buying season tickets from Marshall’s customer service representatives at Gate A. Those participating in the Choose-A-Seat promotion should report to Gate A as well. The Saturday, August 18 scrimmage will also be held at 10:45 a.m. and will be open only to Big Green Members. However, those wishing to join the Big Green will be able to do so by visiting customer service representatives at Gate A.
Holliday, whose team is coming off a 7-6 record capped by a Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl victory over FIU, opens the 2012 season Sept. 1 at noon at 11th-ranked West Virginia (USA Today preseason coaches’ poll). It’s the final date of the seven-year Friends of Coal Bowl series.
He will start drills just as the Herd did last year, with the team split in half for 9:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. workouts. Only the coaches have two-a-days.
“We split them up into Green and White so we have a mixture of offense and defense, a mixture of older guys and younger guys together, so the older ones can help coach the younger guys,” Holliday said. “We’ll divide the squad pretty much evenly, so everybody gets plenty of reps.”
Marshall returns 13 starters (8 offense, 5 defense) from 2011, including All-Conference USA preseason pick Aaron Dobson at wideout. One of those defensive returnees, senior Devin Arrington, has moved from strong safety to strongside linebacker.
Holliday used the running back position as an example of the kind of increased competition the Herd has for playing time. Promising newcomers Steward Butler and Kevin Grooms join returnees Travon Van, Tron Martinez, Martin Ward and Essray Taliaferro in the backfield.
“That’s the kind of competition you want,” Holliday said, adding that a practice-starting depth chart “wouldn’t mean anything”.
Holliday’s preseason camp focus will change from day-to-day.
“Special teams, I’m totally involved all those phases, extremely involved,” the Herd coach said. “What I try to do offensively and defensively is every day I pick a position group.
“I try to get a good overview every day, but I do try to focus on one position group, then another the next day, then change it up the next, get good idea of what we’re doing and what we have at each position.”
The Herd has only eight seniors, the second-fewest in FBS football to Indiana’s seven, but the strength and speed increases on the club will be noticeable when drills begin.
Holliday said there will no particular emphasis on phases or schemes this month, but more a general preparation with a young team for a schedule with six home dates.
“I just think we have to grow as a football team, and we are, and that pleases me,” said Holliday, whose team is 8-3 at home in his two seasons, all three losses to clubs (WVU, UCF and Virginia Tech) that were ranked at one point during those years. “I feel good about our skill level on offense, and I think our offensive linemen have made good strides, and we just have to continue to get better as a football team in all phases.
“I think our personnel is better. I know it is. We’ve got to continue to coach and play extremely hard and develop fundamentals and techniques. Just do what we do – go out and practice hard and get better every day. As long as we do that, we’ll be fine.”