Oct. 24, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Garrett Scott has a new verse of that kids’ anatomy lesson song – known in the day as “Dem Bones” – where the ankle bone was connected to the leg bone.
For Scott, the Marshall offensive tackle from Douglas in southern Georgia, his ankle was connected to his heart muscle, which was connected to his brain … which was connected to how fast the 91-plays-per-game Herd offense thunders these days.
“I’ve got to admit, it was really frustrating. It was a rough patch,” said Scott, who began the season as the starter at right tackle, only to suffer a high (left) ankle sprain 18 plays into Marshall’s opening loss at West Virginia. “There’s been a lot of stress, a lot of worry, trying to get back out there.
“A high ankle sprain; it’s not easy to come back.”
If the 6-foot-5, 310-pound junior didn’t know that previously, he does now. Scott figures to make his 17th career start Saturday night when UCF (5-2, 3-0) comes to Edwards Stadium for a crucial Conference USA East Division date with the Herd (3-4, 2-1).
“I’m about 90 percent, I’d say,” Scott said earlier this week, “which is way better than 70 percent, which is what I was before the bye week.”
After the injury at WVU, junior college transfer Gage Niemeyer got three starts in place of Scott, who tried to come back in a start at Purdue on Sept. 29. He lasted only 21 plays, after having played only 13 in relief the week before at Rice.
He returned to play in relief against Tulsa … but not for long.
“I wanted to come back and help the team,” Scott said, “but I wasn’t near 100 percent, maybe 70. I probably played 50 plays at the max.”
Then, the Herd’s midseason break was Scott’s bigger break. His teammates spent a lot of time talking about how, after a 2-4 start, a bye week would get their minds right. Scott was more concerned about getting his body to a point where he could play effectively.
“When you think about it, it was really two weeks (off),” Scott said. “There was the open (date) week, and then the week leading up to the game at Southern Miss (last Saturday). All of that time really helped.
“I tried to come back that Rice game and tweaked it again. It just didn’t feel right. I tried it the next week at Purdue, and tweaked it again. At that point, I started wondering. I didn’t know when all of my strength would come back.
“With the bye, I had two straight weeks of strength treatment, therapy work. Toby Harkins, our trainer, was doing the best he could with me, and it really helped.”
In the rout at Southern Miss, Scott started and played as long as most of the starters, until the end of the third quarter. His ankle was his estimated “90 percent” but otherwise, he was dealing with ancillary issues connected to inactivity.
“I’d get treatment and be out on the field and listen to Geep (Wade, offensive line coach) and then he’d take me into the film room every day and we’d watch stuff together,” Scott said. “I had a few drills, individual work, but they didn’t want me to have contact, and you miss that.
“I had a little contact work last week, but not much. I’m back at full (contact) this week.”
And that creates another of those “connected” issues, Scott said.
“Sitting out, not practicing, it takes it out of you,” he said. “It’s up there with being injured, trying to handle what you have to do. It takes your timing off a bit. You’d be surprised how even two days missed can throw your timing off, especially in the offensive line, where you’re working as a unit.
“Plus, you’re not used to seeing certain (defensive) fronts. You can sit and watch a lot of football, a lot of film, but when you go out and actually do it, that in my mind is what determines if you can feel comfortable or not.”
The Herd’s hurry-up style was expected, as offensive coordinator Bill Legg repeated the preseason mantra, “I want it fast … I want it fast …” over and over, Scott said. However, the tackle admits a bit of surprise at the pace – and that has figured into his comeback from the ankle woes, too.
“It’s way faster than I thought we’d be,” Scott said. “I thought we’d be fast, but we’d get set, wait for the defense a few seconds and go, but it’s way faster. It’s like a fire drill, a real one, like with a fire going on. And it’s every play.
“Catching my breath after being out, that’s another thing. Coach Joe (Miday, strength and conditioning coach), the week going into the Purdue game before I reinjured it again, he had me doing a lot of cardio work.
“That’s the main thing now, trying to keep my cardio up because of the way we run the offense. Fortunately, the way we practice is the way we play on Saturdays, so I’m getting back to where I need to be.”
Scott said the mental part of getting back to where he wants to be isn’t quite as taxing as a physical side … but there are moments.
“It happens sometimes,” he said, “where we’re moving so fast, and the whistle blows to end a play and you need to get up (off the ground) and get lined up and the play’s (signaled) in and it’s ‘Oh, oh, oh, where do I go, where do I go.
“But with that you can lean on other people. We all know what we’re doing and trust one another. You know what you’ve got to do. I’m just glad to be able to be out there again like I had planned.”