BOGACZYK: Holliday Wants a `Hands-Off' Scrimmage for Evaluation
The Word on the Herd-August 15, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - In one fashion, Marshall's intrasquad football scrimmage on Saturday night isn't going to be anything like the daily battles the Herd has waged - sometimes with nicks, dings and even more - in the line-of-scrimmage trenches.
Coach Doc Holliday said he wants the 7 p.m. scrimmage to be "hands off."
And from the fifth-year coach's remarks following Friday's morning practice, it sounds like the session could go a long way toward finalizing the two-deep to open the 2014 season.
The Herd -- with its lofty preseason predictions including a No. 25 ranking by Sports Illustrated and somewhere in the top 20 (still to be determined) in USA Today's 128-to-1 teams' countdown -- begins to focus more keenly on an Aug. 30 opener at Miami (Ohio) after the scrimmage.
"We're looking to put them in situations on Saturday night; that's one thing we want to do," Holliday said. "I see lots of young kids out here really making some plays, but I want to get off the field, not coaching them every snap.
"I want to get the coaches off the field, and see if (the young players) can go out and continue to make plays on their own, which I think they can."
After recent workouts, Holliday has mentioned as many as seven true freshmen who have caught his eye in the first two weeks of August camp. He has said he won't burn a redshirt just for a bit part. "If we're going to play them, they're going to play," Holliday said.
Conference USA officials will work the scrimmage, which is open (free admission) to Big Green members and Marshall students with a valid ID arriving at Gate A on the stadium's west side (Big Green staffers will be at Gate A for those who may want to join the organization Saturday night).
Holliday said the C-USA officials also will present a seminar on rules changes to the Herd players and coaching staff.
Asked if there were specific positions and position battles he wants to watch more intently, Holliday said the scrimmage is more of an opportunity for a multitude of Herd players.
"I want to continue to watch," Holliday said. "I see some young kids out here, the (Ryan) Yurachek kid (true freshman tight end), he's going to be a good player. I think it's just to find out, exactly, if they can play.
"So, once we get back here on Monday, we're going to get the two-deep pretty well set, with a few rotating guys, and get ready to go play the games. We'll continue to evaluate Saturday and see how they do react, put them in the situation where they're not getting coached every play ... put them in some situations and make some decisions and come back Monday and get ready to go."
Holliday said the Herd will work on special teams during the scrimmage. He mentioned punt return and kick return in particular and said the field goal situations "will be more game like," with a camp-long battle between senior Justin Haig and freshman Nick Smith continuing.
It has been one of the highlights of drills that have been physical to date.
"I'm happy with both of those kickers," the Herd coach said. "Haig is kicking as well as he's ever kicked, and Smith is kicking extremely well, too. There's a great competition going there and we'll see how it works out the next couple of weeks."
The Herd coach was asked specifically about the battle to be the No. 2 quarterback between redshirt sophomore Gunnar Holcombe and true freshman Cole Garvin.
"I think we'll have a decision on Monday," Holliday said. "I think we've got a pretty good idea now, but we'll let the scrimmage play out and get back here Monday and make a decision and get ready to go play."
The remaining Herd preseason practices are closed to the public. A closed scrimmage is scheduled Aug. 23, one week before the season opener.