Aug. 6, 2008
Huntington, W.Va. -
By Randy Burnside
Marshall University Sports Information Director
Note: The is the second in a series of blog-style practice reports that will be posted exclusively on Herdzone.com throughout August camp.
Wednesday was one of the most interesting days of football camp that I can remember in my more than 10 years at Marshall. Its not every day a United States Senator who is running for President drops by to speak to your football team. That alone, and the media attention it brought, made today different. When everything appeared to be returning to normal and the Herd made its way on to the field for the 3 p.m. practice session at Joan C. Edwards Stadium the sun was shinning. Then period 16 came and the day got even more interesting.
First, the visit from Senator McCain...
McCain came to Marshall's football camp this morning and talked about the importance of teamwork and about his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
The Arizona senator praised the university for its courage and greatness during his talk. McCain then told the team - "Millions and millions of people will be watching, including our soldiers and sailors and Marines and airmen who are serving in Iraq. They are going to be watching. And they are going to be proud of you. And they will know that this is a special institution because, we are Marshall."
Coach Snyder gave the senator the opportunity to call a few plays in to the offense and the team responded with three completions - two of them to tight end Cody Slate. Coach then called the team up at the center of the field and introduced the senator to the team. During the introduction coach Snyder told the team that it is because of people like senator McCain who served and continue to serve our country and people like your grandfathers and fathers and brothers who have served in the armed forces and continue to serve that we enjoy the freedoms that we have.
All in all, it was a great experience for our student-athletes to get to hear from a national figure about the importance of team work and service.
The visit should lead to some positive publicity in the national and local media for the university today. During our lunch period, several of our student-athletes did out-of-town interviews and talked with reporters about the senator's visit.
Now, about period 16...
The football team is gearing up for pre-practice and it looks like another hot and sunny session. All of the various units are in their position groups running through drills. The coaching staff divides practice up into periods that are timed and kept on the scoreboard and at about 3:20 p.m. period one is called out over the public address system. The first of a scheduled 28 periods today.
It is hard to say too much about any individuals considering the team is practicing in shorts for the second time today. Saturday the pads come on and for the first time we will see the newcomers getting a taste of actual contact football at the collegiate level. With that said, I am impressed with the newcomers on the defensive side of the ball like Delvin Johnson and Vinny Curry. They look like they are in great shape and ready to contribute.
The special units look to be in good hands. The Herd returns a lot of players on special teams in both of the return units and coverage teams and it shows in their early drills. Craig Ratanamorn has a strong leg and he has been very consistent thus far and freshman punter Kase Whitehead has had several nice punts.
Coach Goebbel also looks to have good group at receiver. You can't help but notice the height and speed out there. It is great to see a healthy Darius Passmore running routes and making plays again. Darius was on his way to a really productive year last year, before injuries hampered him down the stretch. Overall, we appear to have good speed on both sides of the ball and that is always a good thing.
Unbelievable...a severe thunderstorm has camped right on top of the stadium and it is a down pour. Thunder just rumbled and the coaching staff has called the team into the Shewey Building. Water has flooded the parking lot across Third Avenue and the rain is coming down. Of course, we value the safety of all of our student-athletes and staff and whenever head trainer Tom Belmaggio gets lightning on the monitor its time to head for cover.
The rain continues and so does the thunder. Coach Snyder has decided to bring the team in for meetings to make good use of the time. Doug Smock of the Charleston Gazette has the weather radar called up on his laptop screen and it looks like one isolated thunderstorm sitting directly over the stadium. Everything else is clear.
Coach Snyder addresses the media at the entrance to the Shewey Building and says the team will make up the work it missed by taking time from other meetings and periods later in the week. He then fielded a few questions from Doug, Jacob Messer of the Daily Mail, Anthony Hanshew and Chuck Landon of the Herald-Dispatch and headed into the meeting room and back to work.