Aug. 7, 2008
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -
The Thundering Herd sported shoulder pads and shorts during the team's third day of practice at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Wednesday. The weather also cooperated today as the team was able to workout with partly cloudy skies and the mercury only making it into the low 80s.
Today's seven-on-seven pass skeleton involved several nice throws from Marshall's young quarterbacks. Brian Anderson connected with Tavaris Thompson, who made a nice move and broke away from two defenders, on a 42-yard strike. Later in the drill, Mark Cann hooked-up with Cody Slate and Courtney Edmonson on long throws for scores. It doesn't take an expert to see that the quarterbacks and receivers seem to have developed a good sense of timing already.
Speaking of the quarterbacks it is interesting to watch the men in red when they are not taking reps (all of the quarterbacks wear red jerseys in practice to signal to other players they are not to be hit). Coach John Shannon is installing the Herd's new no-huddle offense and each quarterback practices signaling play calls in several drills. Of course, we won't go into detail on how Marshall will signal in plays. One photographer actually posed that question to Coach Shannon at media day and asked if you had to be "really sharp" to do that. His response - "It's not that tough. You could do it." Of course, that drew some laughter from the collection of media members in the room.
During one-on-one drills (where a receiver goes head-to-head with a defensive back), Emmanuel Spann made a beautiful catch on a Brian Anderson throw. I know Spann is looking forward to a good senior season and is happy to have his little brother Tay here at Marshall (Octavious transferred in from Georgetown last year and plays basketball for the Herd).
Andre Portis made a great break on a Mark Cann pass and picked it off and ran it 28-yards for a touchdown. There is a huge difference on that side of the ball in numbers, size and speed as opposed to last season at this time. It is really noticeable and I think folks will be impressed. Of course, the defense more often than not is ahead of the offense at this point of camp. Coach Snyder mentioned the increased speed when addressing the media following practice.
There is a lot of excitement in camp and by the looks of things down on the field, the first day in pads (this Saturday) should be something to see. Fans are reminded that Saturday's practice is open to the public. Practice should start shortly after 3 p.m. Just a reminder though, fans are asked not to bring recording devices of any kind to practice (cameras, video recorders, laptops, etc.).
Big Green members will have a down-in-front opportunity to see the Herd's spirited Hoot-`n-Holler drill at Saturday's practice. Hoot-`n-Holler is usually the first team drill after the limbering-up and stretching exercises. A special area (the first 20 rows in sections 112 and 114) will be roped off for current Big Green members only who will need to show their 2008-09 membership card to sit in the special sections. The Big Green will also have a table at the top exit portal between Sections 112 and 114 for those who have not yet received their current membership card in the mail where they will be given a pass to the special viewing area. Passes to the down-in-front area will also be available to those who want to join Big Green or renew their membership at practice. New Big Green Nike sideline apparel will also be on sale for members at the table.
Speaking of Saturday, there are not a lot of places left in the country that allow fans to watch an entire practice and I think its great that Coach Snyder and his staff allow the fans to see the first day in pads.
Along those lines, there are not many FBS programs left that allow the media to watch practice. Fortunately, we have fostered a good relationship with our local media members through the years and that has led to good coverage that Marshall football may not have had without such access. I really appreciate our media group for covering the program as well as they do. Our fans get a chance to grow closer to the program and learn more about it through their player feature stories and notes.
The publicity that this coverage generates, not only for the football program, but Marshall University as a whole, is very valuable. My office tracks the print publicity that all of our sports and department generates throughout the year by calculating the cost of an advertisement in a publication and comparing it to the column inches we get in stories that amount to free publicity. Over the last few years that total (print only) exceeds 25 million dollars a year. If you were to calculate the national, regional, and local television exposure that our sports programs generate that number would grow tremendously.
That exposure helps recruiting not only in athletics, but the general student body. Prospective students may see a football game on TV, see a story on their local six o'clock news, or read a Gary Fauber story in the Register-Herald about a local product who has made it as a walk-on at Marshall. That mention may be just enough to get a young person interested in checking out one of our academic programs.