Aug. 12, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Marshall’s football Doc thought he had the correct diagnosis, but he later got the confirmation.
He didn’t check ant X-rays or an MRI. He went to the video tape.
And as Week 1 of preseason camp rolled into Week 2 on Monday, Coach Doc Holliday had reason to perhaps feel even more chipper about Thundering Herd prospects in what has been predicted to be an impact 2013 season for his program.
Holliday anxiously watched the tape of last Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage hours later. His eyesight during the session wasn’t fuzzy.
“I thought for the most part the defense continued to grow,” Holliday said. “We’ve got a lot more to go still, but I feel like we’re at lot more athletic, and I think they look like they’re playing with their feet in the ground.
“I was talking to Chuck (Heater, defensive coordinator) on Saturday evening after watching the tape, and there are 14 new faces on that defense who are contributing.”
“I think the one positive when you look at that is every young guy we weren’t quite sure about, can play. A guy like (defensive lineman) Josh Brown, we thought he could play, we didn’t know it. We got him out there, he can. Gary Thompson, Arnold Blackmon, (linebacker) Neville Hewitt -- the same. They can play.”
Holliday added that players like weakside linebacker Evan McKelvey is another type of the above example – lost to injury last season, then limited or out of spring ball, when Heater first put his eyes on his Herd defense on the field.
“(True freshmen corners) Tiquan Lang
and Michael Johnson
can both play,” Holliday said. “Those guys we weren’t sure about. You think you know, but now there’s no question they have the ability, they just have to continue to get better.
“When you add all those to what we had out there in the spring and what’s back, there’s plenty of depth out there to work with now … (Defensive tackle) James Rouse was another unknown to Chuck, because he was hurt. We’ve got to keep him going.
“(At tackle), Steve Dillon continues to grow and Brandon Sparrow has had a good camp. There are the others I mentioned and in the secondary Darryl Roberts is back, and Derrick Thomas has had a good camp. (Safety) A.J. Leggett, Chuck knew a little about him in the spring, but he’s full go and he’s doing well. We have several guys there who can really help us.”
Holliday added that Lang and Johnson, as well as a third true freshman, Corey Tindal, would be “cross-trained” as corners/nickels or safeties/nickels.
Asked about a handful of players who have been hobbled since workouts began, Holliday said he didn’t think the injury bug had bitten the Herd more than might be expected.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “The other day, we heard Georgia had 18 guys missing practice. One (player out) is too many, but you deal with it.”
Holliday said 2013 freshman recruits Justin Hunt and Josh Knight “have come in and gotten a lot of work, we’ve had some guys banged up there, and they both look like they can help us this year … Those freshmen offensive linemen -- Michael Selby, Chris Huhn, Cody Collins – they’ll be fine. Whether they play this year, I don’t know. We would like to redshirt them.”
The Herd coach added that one personnel move involves sophomore receiver DeAndre Reaves.
“He continues to impress us at slot,” Holliday said. “We’ll keep him there, and we’ll play him some at tailback this week to develop some more depth there.”
He said walk-on kickers Nick Smith and Amoreto Curraj – brought in primarily to give the Herd deeper kickoffs – still are climbing the rookie ropes.
“Both look like they have extremely strong legs, which we thought, but they have to become more consistent in their field goals and kickoffs,” Holliday said. “They’ve got the ability to kick it deep on kickoffs, which we want, but they have to more consistent doing it.”
This week’s schedule includes two-a-days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with single workouts Tuesday and Thursday and a 7 p.m. scrimmage on Saturday.
“Week 2 is no different from Week 1,” Holliday said. “We’ve got to go out there every day and walk off that day as a better team, as better individually. When you do it as players, you become a better team because of it.
“The thing is just to go out there every day, go extremely hard and come off as a better player. And so far, I think our guys have done that and I think it will continue.”
The depth that has been created by players returning from injury or redshirts and what has been judged as perhaps the best 2013 recruiting effort by a non-BCS program has created much more day-to-day competition for veterans, too.
“One thing I like about this team is, watching practice, I see these guys coaching one another,” Holliday said. “They’re involved with helping us get better, and that’s what good teams do.
“You see (Rakeem) Cato out there coaching the younger guys at quarterback. Watch those veteran defensive linemen coaching the younger guys, the new guys.
“It’s fun when you get a team that No. 1, likes to play, and No. 2, become a better team. Potential, as I’ve said from Day 1, can get you beat. But right now we’re getting production out of potential, which if we continue to do that, we’ve got a shot at becoming a very good football team.”