Marshall Football Fall Practice Photo Gallery

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Shuler Eager For Senior Season With The Herd

Ask any Marshall football fan to name one of the best receivers ever to play for the Herd and senior Tommy Shuler’s name is sure to make the list.
Tommy Shuler works in practice.

“He (Shuler) has that ‘it’ factor that you talk about all the time with a guy,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “He finds a way to make plays.”

After back-to-back 100 catch seasons, the Miami Central native has a chance to do something no one has ever done in Division I football, go back-to-back-to-back.

“If he has a great year, he could finish up as the first receiver in the history of college football to have three back-to-back-to-back 100-catch seasons,” Holliday said. “He’s matured, he’s come along and he’s a tremendous, tremendous player.

In fact, Shuler is the only receiver of the 128 FBS teams that is eligible to achieve such a feat.

Shuler hauled in 110 catches in 2012 as the crafty sophomore slot receiver took advantage of the additional coverage that Herd outside receivers Aaron Dobson and Antavious Wilson drew. After all, both were NFL caliber receivers and Dobson now plays for the New England Patriots.

In 2013 defenses focused solely on Shuler as Dobson and Wilson moved on to the next chapters in their lives. While Shuler did not produce any 19 catch, 200-yard games like his 2012 performance at Purdue, he finished with 106 grabs and 10 touchdowns while fighting through double coverage nearly every contest.

Shuler own's back-to-back 100 catch seasons.
Shuler said he never dreamed of having such success while at Marshall.

“Never,” Shuler said humbly. “After my freshman year I was like wow. Then my sophomore year I caught 110 (passes) and then caught another 100 last year. Every day I replay catches in my head and I just think how did I catch so many balls? I just pray and thank God every step of the way.”

As Shuler enters his senior season, he reflected on his time spent in Huntington while choking back the emotions from the memories.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Shuler said. “I was in the team room and Coach Furrey was like, you got 4 months. I told him, don’t say that again please. You are about to make me cry. I just hope this season lasts as long as it can last because I’m not ready to leave yet.”

Marshall finds itself in the national spotlight this season after turning in a 10-4 record and a win in the Military Bowl last year. It also has its first Heisman Trophy candidate since Byron Leftwich in 2002—Rakeem Cato—who happens to be Shuler’s best friend.

“Cato is a great quarterback and person,” said Shuler.” He’s my best friend and we are just trying to do what we can do and help Marshall football win.”

Shuler and Cato have been a duo long before they arrived in Huntington after playing youth football together before become a dynamic combo at Miami Central High School.

However, the Miami Central connection was nearly broken when Cato committed to Florida International University and a chance to spend a season with future Indianapolis Colt’s receiver T.Y. Hilton.

But Shuler said it was not hard to persuade his best friend and teammate to follow him to the Herd.

“It wasn’t that hard,” Shuler chuckled. “I just begged him every day he was at my house and kept begging and begging every time he came around.”

As the tandem enters their final year for the Herd, they both understand that history awaits. While they ultimately are in control of the season’s outcome, Shuler said last season provided a good foundation for the attention the team is receiving.

“It helped us a lot,” said Shuler. “When we beat Maryland everything just started rolling. We know what we can do but we had to stop at a point. Now we get to pick it back up and make more history. I feel like the teams ready and we are ready to go attack the season.”

Should this team have the historical season the experts are predicting, not only could the Herd finish undefeated but could also be playing in a major bowl game New Year’s Day as the recipient of the ‘Group of 5’ Golden Ticket.

Shuler and Cato could rewrite some individual records too.

Still, the Herd wide out remains humble while trying to get better each day.

“When we wake up we know we have people back home that want to see us do great and success so we have to work,” Shuler said. “We don’t come out every day thinking we are the best duo but just another day that we are trying to get better and learn something different about each other that will help us at the next level and out here this year.”

But no matter his stats or anything he accomplishes in his final season with the Herd, Shuler said there will always be one memory that stands above all others.

“Tulsa,” Shuler said without hesitation. “The sideline when we won that game. It wasn’t just because of that touchdown. It was the ceremony of the plane crash and we came back. We was winning, losing, then we took the lead. Everything played into a great success and moment. That was one of the greatest moments and I’ll never forget that. That was my favorite moment and my favorite touchdown at Marshall.”

But amongst all the hype Shuler said he strives to remained focused on enjoying the game he loves.

“I just pray that I have a successful season, we go undefeated and just win games and have fun.”

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Miami RedHawks Football Season Preview

While October 27, 2012 may not seem like a very long away, for the Miami (Ohio) football team that day seems like an eternity.

It was the last time the RedHawks won a football game.

Jumping out to a 20-7 lead early in the first half, Miami’s Kaleb Patterson connected with a game-winning field goal in the final minutes for a 23-20 win over then No. 23, and in-state MAC Rival, Ohio.

Since that day, 16 games have passed all resulting in a Miami loss and the Oxford community is hoping to return to the ways of 2003, where Ben Roethlisberger commanded the RedHawks to a 13-1 season and a top-10 finish.

But 2014 brings several new looks for this struggling football team eager to get back to its winning ways.
Chuck Martin was hired as the programs 36th head coach and inherits a program searching for any signs of life. Martin spent his last four years at Norte Dame where he worked as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (2012-13) and as the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator (2010-11) while serving under head coach Brian Kelly.

During Martin’s tenure of play calling, the Fighting Irish finished 20-5 including an appearance in the BCS National Championship against Alabama in 2013. His unit averaged 26.4 points per game with a balanced offensive attack that tallied 170 yards rushing and 235 yards passing per contest.

However, Miami is nowhere close to Norte Dame’s production leaving Martin with a serious uphill battle.

Miami is picked to finish sixth in a seven team MAC East division after a 0-12, 0-8 MAC 2013 season. Another serious problem with the outlook from this season, while there are several returning members of the offense, their performance last season was far from stellar.

In seven of the RedHawks 12 games last season, they were held under 14 points while eclipsing 300 yards only once (Akron 303). Overall, Miami averaged 3.7 yards per play and just under 226 yards a game including touting the third worst rushing attack in the nation (1219 yards). More importantly, it only converted third down 41-of-167 (25 percent) of the time.

The defense was not much better.

Coming in at 108th in the nation last season, Miami’s defense could not get off the field as opponents converted 80-of-166 (48 percent) third down chances including 9-of-12 (75 percent) fourth down attempts.
Miami allowed 428 points last season—including three games it surrendered over 50—while scoring only 117 points of its own.

Needless to say, major work is needed to right the ship in Oxford.

I will preview each position and how Miami stacks up on both sides of the ball.


After losing starting quarterback Austin Boucher to injury in late October last year, true freshman Austin Gearing had to command the ship. Gearing struggled mightily going 24-of-54 for 188 yards with no passing touchdowns and three interceptions. He was also sacked 22.9 percent of the time he dropped back to pass. The upside to Gearing, he could run. He led the team in rushing, totaling 478 yards on 145 carries. Both quarterbacks last year suffered with a shaky at best offensive line and lacked a go-to guy that could make a big play.

With the addition of Gearing, Drew Kummer returns to the mix as well as redshirt freshman Tom Tupa who was recruited after being high-touted in high school. With three able bodies ready to battle for the starting position, someone forgot to tell Norte Dame transfer Andrew Hendrix that three’s company and four is a crowd.

Hendrix enters as a fifth-year senior after spending four years as a backup under Martin’s system in South Bend but has yet to prove his is a proven leader on the field. Hendrix finished 25-of-58 with 360 passing and a touchdown during his time as the Fighting Irish’s backup. He also ran for 229 yards and another score.
Should Hendrix earn the starting nod this season, he best have his running shoes laced up tight as the RedHawks’ offensive line allowed 49 sacks last season. Hendrix has the athletic ability and a familiarization with Martin’s system which makes him a favorite for the starting nod.

Running Backs

After looking at a stat sheet from last season, it is no wonder the RedHawks were ranked 125th in the nation in rushing. The team’s leading rusher was the quarterback with a wide receiver occupying the second position. Spencer Treadwell returns as the team’s leading ‘running back’ after a dreadful 2013 season. Treadwell amassed 171 yards on 56 carries with his lone score coming against Marshall. Not exactly something to write home about.

However, the running back stable appears to still be empty entering the 2014 campaign.

Miami returns sophomore Grant Niemiec and Specer McInnis and welcomes freshman Paul Moses into the backfield with Treadwell. Collectively Niemiec and McInnis had 48 touches for 147 yards and one touchdown. With a position that is a must to help alleviate the pressure from a struggling passing game, keep looking if you thought this was the hidden clue to solving this puzzle.

Wide Receivers

Leading the way for the RedHawks will be senior Dawan Scott who returns as the team’s leading receiver and second leading rusher. Scott pulled in 28 catches for 425 yards and 2 TD’s and 231 yards on 37 carries. Joining Scott in the receiving unit is fellow senior David Frazier who was second on the team in receiving with 28 catches for 302 yards and 2 TD’s in only eight games.

Redshirt junior Alvonta Jenkins and sophomore Rokeem Williams look to provide an additional target within the unit. Miami adds two big bodies in the receiving core this season with hopes of improving its 10-of-19 (53 percent) redzone touchdown production from last season.

Redshirt sophomore Sam Shisso and freshman Chris Hudson stand 6-foot 5-inches 214 pounds and 6-foot 6-inches 259 pounds, respectfully, have received positive reviews for their production in the redzone during camp. Shisso had one catch for two yards last season in seven games. Hudson was a tight end at Hazard High School (KY) but has converted to a wide out in his first year at Miami. The true freshman caught 13 touchdowns his senior season which was third best among Kentucky Division 1A tight ends.

Tight Ends

This is a position that is a total unknown for this season. Exiting is Steve Marck who played all 12 games while catching 12 passes for 133 yards and 2 TD’s and Dustin White’s 9 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown in 12 games.

Who is poised to take over? Notre Dame transfer Alex Welch stands at the head of the class. Welch played in 22 games in four seasons for the Irish catching only one pass for eight yards. He also turned in six special teams tackles. He much like Hendrix understands Martin’s offensive game plan.

Junior Orlando David looks to join Welch on the field after working on the practice squad last season. David played in 11 games and caught seven receptions his freshman year.

Offensive Line

There is one word to sum up Miami’s offensive line last season, bad. With no blocking up front, the RedHawks saw the defense in the backfield almost as often as its own players. Not only was blocking an issue, finding a combination that worked well together never happened. Altogether, Miami used six different combinations in its first nine games.

Gone from the line is center John Anevski who started 11 games while Anevski started nine.

Senior Marcus Matthews looks to take over at center after playing in five games, three of which he started. Trevan Brown and Jeff Tanner returns as the most experienced linemen at left guard and tackle respectfully, playing in all 12 games and starting 10.

While the RedHawks return an experience left side, the right is not as fortunate. Collin Buchanan played in 10 games behind Lewis could be in line for a starting spot at right tackle while Wesley Scott, Brandyn Cook and Julian Green will compete at right guard, none of which played more than nine games last year.

Defensive Line

Just like the old saying “speed kills”, so can an undersized line. Miami returns three defensive tackles whose average weight is 275 pounds. While this is not the worst problem to deal with, the defensive ends only average 234 pounds. Giving up 50-plus pounds on the ends could spell disaster for the RedHawks chances of controlling the line of scrimmage.

Junior Bryson Albright recorded a team-high five sacks last season and 55 tackles—11.5 for loss—returns to one defensive end while sophomore J’Terius Jones (Brown) provided three sacks and 26 tackles of his own. Collectively, the tandem accounted for 8-of-14 of the team’s sacks.

This biggest issue with the defensive line, it struggled much of the season to get a push into the backfield. Without anchors on the outside, much of the same can be expected from last season.

Working the middle of the line will be senior Mwanza Wamulumba, Jimmy Rousher and Mitchell Winters. Although all three played significant minutes last season, their tackling numbers were non-existent. 

Considering the team’s three leading tacklers were two linebackers and a corner, the offense was able to bust past the undersized RedHawks defensive line.

Miami has two freshmen coming in this season but they appeared to be at the same level as what is already there. Games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage and until Miami upgrades its defensive line, several more losses are in its future.


 If there is one shining spot on this team, this is it. Last season, the linebackers were responsible for 351-of-988 team tackles (35.5 percent). While Miami loses middle linebacker Chris Wade, the team’s fourth leading tackler, it returns a full collection of linebackers in juniors Kent Kern, Josh Dooley and Tyler Tucker.
Kern led the team in tackles with 98 including five for loss and Dooley finished third with 87 tackles. Tucker finished inside the top-10 with 50 tackles. The upside of their performance, although the rushing attack frequently busts into the second level, Miami’s linebackers tackle well, preventing the break-away run.

Miami allowed only one run of 50-plus yards (53 vs Ohio) and one of 40-plus (45 vs Kent State). The bad part of their performance, not a single interception was recorded and only a handful of pass breakups were made. If anything must change in this unit, this is it. Too many big plays happened through the air.

Defensive Backs

Much like the linebackers, several players return from 2013 in the RedHawks secondary. That is a good thing for a team searching for some form of consistency. However, possibly the biggest playmaker on the defensive side of the ball is gone in Dayonne Nunley. Nunley was second in tackles with 88 and had an interception to go along with 13 pass breakups. How big was Nunley? His 13 breakups were over one-third of the team’s total of 37.

With Nunley gone from the secondary, the duty of controlling the corner position falls solely on sophomore Heath Harding and senior Chrishawn Dupuy. Harding had a team-leading three interceptions and 56 tackles while Dupuy had two interceptions and 25 tackles. Of the team’s 10 interceptions last season, five belonged to Harding and Dupuy.

Another person who plans to throw his name into the mix at corner is Notre Dame transfer Lo Wood. Wood played in 32 games during his four seasons with the Fighting Irish, recording 19 tackles with his lone interception being returned for a 57-yard touchdown in a win over Maryland. Wood may not bring best stats, but he spent time with Martin at Norte Dame which benefits every member of a secondary unit that gave up several deep balls last year including one for 54 yards at Marshall, a season-long 88 yards at Kentucky and 75 yards at Ball State.

Should the trio of corners be able to lock down opposing receivers on the outside, safeties Brison Burris and Jay Mastin could take away the deep balls that showed itself in nearly every game last season. Both had an interception last season with Mastin’s coming against Marshall. With a combined 137 tackles, only 1.5 for a loss, says that the tandem was responsible for halting another score for the opposition.

Marshall Taylor returns to the secondary after redshirting all of last season. Taylor played in all but one game, starting 5-of-7 as a true freshman in 2012 in which he led all freshman with 40 tackles.

Special Teams

On a team that desperately relies on its kickers, 2014 brings yet another position with complete uncertainty. Gone are punters Zac Murphy and kicker Mason Krysinski. Murphy sailed 79 punts averaging 46.6 yards per kick. Murphy placed 25-of-79 punts inside the 20 while earning 18 fair catches and seven touchbacks
Krysinski had a lesser of a duty as he only tallied 30 kickoffs while averaging 54.3 yards per kick.

After the RedHawks special teams finished in the top-50 last season, place-kicker Kaleb Patterson finds himself the man who must carry the special teams forward. The junior was a perfect 12-of-12 on PAT’s and 7-of-11 on field goal attempts including booting a season-best 52-yard attempt that sailed through the uprights. Patterson has been cool under pressure his entire career at Miami. In his freshman season, Patterson connected on a game-winning field goal in the final two minutes to knock of No. 23 Ohio.

Reports from camp have Patterson consistently connecting from 50-plus yards which provides some hope for an offense that struggled to break 100 points all season. Patterson may not be the answer to all of the RedHawks problems, but he certainly will help.

The return team consists of senior J.J. Greenwood and sophomore Fred McRae. Greenwood split kickoff returns with McRae while McRae handled 12-of-15 punt returns last season. While neither did anything extraordinary in the return game, McRae possesses the speed to break off a big gain if he finds daylight in front of him.

Miami opens its season August 30th as it plays host to Marshall. While Marshall struggled early with Miami in last season's matchup in Huntington, the Herd pulled away after being tied at 14 at the half for a 52-14 win.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Marshall Football Notebook 8-20

Coach's Corner

Coach Holliday opened with talking about the Paint the Capital City Green event that takes place tomorrow evening in Charleston.

"It's huge," Holliday said. "Its a well attended event. There will be a lot of people there, our players, we will take about 20 of our players there for that deal and our fans will get a chance to interact with our players and gives us an opportunity to thank our fan base for everything they do for us throughout the year."

Holliday said he likes what he has seen from his young receivers.

"It's good, its great to be honest," said Holliday. "We didn't get a lot of those plays a year ago. So normally what happens in practice happens in games. So if we can continue to make plays down the road in a game situation we will be alright because we can make them here in practice."

Holliday commented on rookie receiver Angelo Jean-Louis saying he is a talented guy but lets hold off Sportscenter--at least for now.

"He's a talented guy," Holliday said of Jean-Louis. "He may be one of our most consistent guys out here this fall. If he continues to do that, he's going to be a good player."

Holliday talked about the quality of the freshman coming into the program and the number of them that could see action this season.

"I think we have nine true freshman that are going to play a significant role this year," Holliday said. "That being said, we are bringing in good players and that's a tribute to Mike (Hamrick) and Dr. Kopp for providing us with the facilities we have to attract them here. Our coaching staff has done a tremendous job of recruiting. We think we have a pretty solid football team when you have nine freshmen who have a chance to come in and play.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

After receiving a challenge from Rakeem Cato, the entire Marshall receiving core took the Ice Bucket Challenge as a unit. It can be viewed HERE.

Senior wideout Tommy Shuler challenged Coach Holliday, Team Chaplin Rev and Athletic Director Mike Hamrick.

Hoskins Injury Holding Him Out

Former Herd tight end has been fighting for a roster spot with the Miami Dolphins through training camp but has also been fighting a hamstring injury. In the first 53 man roster projection, it appears Hoskins is not listed with the tight ends, but it also appears his injury is the only reason.

Read NFL beat writer and columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Omar Kelly's report HERE.

Scout's Honor...Again.

More NFL scouts attended the Herd's practice session today as reported by Herd Football's Assistant AD Mark Gale's Twitter account. The San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs were in attendance of today's session making this the 7th and 8th NFL team to visit the Herd's practice sessions. Add these to the list of the Bears, Texans, Bengals, Cardinals, Browns and Patriots who have all attended a Herd practice.

Is a Group of 5 school powerful enough?

Dennis Dodd from released another article today regarding the Group of 5 which Marshall is listed at the top. Dodd likes the Herd's chances this season but said it takes 12-0 or it becomes a distant memory.

Read his article GROUP OF 5 ARTICLE HERE.

Football Promotional Events Schedule Released

Marshall released the 2014 promotional event schedule for all the Herd's home football games. All games will have some special promotion and can save fans money on tickets. A big announcement for the Rhode Island game all of the first responders for the Morris Building Fire will be recognized.


Marshall Football Head Coach Doc Holliday 8-20

Coach Holliday speaks about the upcoming Paint the Capital City Green.

Coach Holliday Interview 8-20

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Marshall Football Tight Ends Coach Todd Hartley Talks Welcomes A New Member to the Family

Coach Hartley welcomed a new child to the family this morning. Here his story right here.

Coach Hartley Interview 8-19

Marshall Football Head Coach Doc Holliday Post Practice Interview 8-19

Coach Holliday Interview 8-19

Marshall Football Notebook 8-19

Coach’s Corner
Coach Holliday had an official work with the secondary and return unit today mostly to just keep a check on the hands and formations.

“He is just watching their hands mostly within the secondary making sure we were playing clean back there and getting alignments,” Holliday said. “We did some punt return things where we could check out our hold up and blocks.

The official was Kenny Long who attended Marshall and lives in Hurricane. He is a licensed CUSA official but he does not work any of Marshall’s games.

Holliday said that Gunnar Holcombe’s time spent within the program aided in his choice for the backup position.

“He’s making plays and better decisions,” said Holliday. “We stuck him there with the ones a couple times even today and he’s getting better as a player and he’s progressing.  The one thing that Gunnar has that Cole (Garvin) doesn’t have is Gunnar has been here a couple springs. He understands the offense a little better and is executing better at this point.

Holliday said he has a good idea of who will start the season returning punts with some addition hands joining the unit at a later time.

“I think there’s no doubt that Shuler and Reaves have both done it and can do it and there are two young freshmen in Gator Green and Hyleck Foster that both have tremendous ball skills back there,” said Holliday. “Early on it will be more Reaves and Shuler and then as we go along we will see how Foster and Green do. All four of them have the ability to get that done.”

One of Doc’s favorite things on a field is competition among players and he has a major battle brewing between the kickers. Justin Haig has been pushed all camp by Nick Smith which has actually stretched Haig’s distance out farther than it’s ever been and even farther than Holliday ever imagined.

“He (Haig) has more range now than he ever had,” Holliday said. “I didn’t realize he had it and he hadn’t had the range the last two or three years that he has right now. That’s a tribute to him because he has worked and Nick (Smith) has given him a battle and Justin isn’t backing down he is sticking in there and kicking right with him. It’s a good battle but Justin has responded and he’s kicked pretty well.”

In other news from former Herd player Blake Frohnapfel and him being named the starting quarterback at UMASS, Holliday said he was not surprised that Blake won the job.

“There were schools that Blake was interested in that wasn’t interested in him and I couldn’t understand why,” Holliday said. “We wish him the best, he’s an excellent kid and I’m sure he’ll do well for them.”

Ice Bucket Challenge

After being challenged by current New England Patriot and former Herd wide receiver Aaron Dobson, Rakeem Cato took the Ice Bucket Challenge today after this mornings practice. Cato challenged his entire receiving unit at the conclusion of taking the bucket of ice water. View Cato’s Challenge HERE!!!

If you can’t beat them, join them

Shawn Petty officially joined the team today after transferring to Marshall from Maryland. Petty is listed as a 6-1 235-pound linebacker and will play the same position at Marshall. Petty attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School before heading to Maryland where he spent time as a linebacker on the scout team before moving to quarterback during the 2012 season after the team became depleted with injuries. Petty played four games as the Terps signal caller going 39-84 for 500 yards with 6TD’s and 2 interceptions. Petty played in 13 games last season for Maryland as he recorded 24 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 sacks (-26 yards) with one pass breakup and deflection each. Petty will sit out this season (transfer) and will be a redshirt junior next season. Petty will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Welcome to the Herd Family

Tight ends coach Todd Hartley and wife Jessica welcomed the birth of their third child at 10:15 a.m. this morning. Teagan Elizabeth Hartley weighed 5-pounds 13-ounces and was 19 inches long. Mother and baby are doing fine.

Coach Hartley said the outpouring of support from everyone has been tremendous.

“The good part about being part of something like this it truly is family,” Hartley said. “We’ve had coaches wives coming by and all kinds of texts and tweets and Facebook and its been unbelievable just because of the Marshall family. We’ve got our family back home in Georgia but the Marshall family is just unbelievable.”
Hartley said with child number three his wife Jessica has become more accustomed to the life of a football coach, unlike the birth of his first child when the couple was still in Georgia and one of the biggest games of the season was on the schedule.

“I was working for Georgia and I missed about three days of work,” explained Hartley. “We were playing Florida that we, Georgia-Florida game and I was on the plane on Friday to down to the game on Saturday. She was upset because I was gone after three days.”

 With the birth today, Hartley missed only the morning practice.

Congratulations to the entire Hartley family on their new addition.

Turn up the music

At 4:17 p.m. today, somewhere between 3rd and 5th avenues and approximately around 20th street in between McDonalds and Tic Toc Tire, Thunderstruck was heard filling the air over Huntington. Have you…?

You’re not worthy

After a lengthy discussion with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakesvp) today, he made it perfectly clear that anyone who does not have a win over a Power 5 team. He basically said that should Marshall go 12-0, it was pretty much meaningless due to its terrible schedule. Even with every other team in the nation going 11-1 and Marshall going 12-0, he says Marshall has no chance.  View the conversation on my Twitter feed at @CollierSZLive.

Brotherly Love

Keep a look out for an upcoming article featuring Eric and Blake Frohnapfel and football life after Marshall. This will be the first season they will place on different teams after Blake transferred to UMASS after obtaining his undergraduate degree at Marshall. The interview covers football life and life away from the field including some brotherly love humor.

Watson Hopes His New Direction Leads to Paydirt

Ask Marshall football running back Remi Watson the two best pieces of advice first-year running backs coach Chris Barclay gave him and his answer may shock you, a compass and a toilet.
Remi Watson 

No Barclay was not playing a practical joke but rather providing Watson with valuable tools to help the redshirt junior perform to his expected potential.

How is Watson supposed to use these two items to make himself a better runner? It all started after a straight forward talk from his coach.

“The best thing I’ve told him (Watson),” Barclay said. “It’s a revolutionary statement. I said I don’t know if you know this Remi but the end zones are north and south. The quicker you can get north or south, the faster you can get in the end zone. I would hate for you to run 20 yards east and west to gain three yards or five yards.”

Barclay may know a thing or two about scoring after finishing a stellar career at Wake Forest where he was named the 2005 ACC Player of the Year and the Offensive Player of the Year. Barclay also set seven school records including rushing yards (4,032), scoring (240 points), rushing touchdowns (40), total touchdowns (40), all-purpose yards (4,930), 200-yard rushing games (3) and 1,000 yard rushing seasons (3).
Running Backs Coach Chris Barclay

So what does Watson attribute his sudden surge thus far in camp? Listening to his coach’s advice and putting it to use in practice.

“I told myself once again like I do every day when I come out to practice, north and south, north and south, north and south, as quick as possible,” Watson said.

Entering his third season with the Herd, Watson said past experience meant nothing and Coach Barclay was very clear on what was expected from the junior.

“He (Barclay) gave it to me how it is with no beating around the bush,” Watson said. “No just thinking you have arrived because I played as a freshman. I got to work every day when I come out here.”

Watson understands there is work to be done, especially if he plans on rebounding from a sub-par 2013 season. Watson’s rookie season in 2012 saw the kid from Lakeland, Florida rack up 380 yards on 79 carries and seven touchdowns while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. His best performance in 2012 came in a 54-51 win over Rice when he finished with 14 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns.

However, Watson’s rookie production did not continue in 2013. Watson struggled finding his place in the depth chart behind Essray Taliaferro, Steward Butler and Kevin Grooms largely in part to his running style consistently running him sideline to sideline with little to no gain, therefore stalling the Herd’s high-octane offense.

Watson played in only nine games in 2013, none of which he started, after playing in 11-of-12 in 2012 and starting four. Watson’s 2013 stats plummeted to 120 yards on 30 carries with no touchdowns and his best game of the season did not come until Marshall’s Military Bowl victory over Maryland when he gained 42 yards on six carries including a 19-yard run.

So what does Watson have to do this season to find increased opportunities in an extremely crowded backfield? For starters, he must heed to his coach’s advice.

“Coach Barclay laid it on the line,” explained Watson. “If you want to play, you’ve got to add this to your game. If you don’t, it’s not that you aren’t talented enough to do it, but if you chose not to add that to your game, we will find someone else who will.”
Watson works during a drill in camp

Watson seemed to take Barclay’s advice after having a decent performance in Saturday night’s scrimmage. Watson tallied 11 carries for 51 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and a touchdown including a five-play 25-yard drive that Watson carried the ball five times.

Watson started slow in the scrimmage with runs of 1-yard and no gain. However, Watson stayed the course stringing off runs of three and nine yards in back-to-back carries. More importantly, Watson never seemed to lose his composure on the field.

That must be music to Barclay’s ears.

But while Watson’s numbers appear to be returning to those of his rookie year, Barclay demands him to play the next play and forget what happen on the last, or simply flush the toilet.

“Coach Barclay always tells us when something doesn’t go your way you have to flush the toilet,” Watson chuckled. “If you have a bad run, he wants us to do the same thing. You’ve got to take what you are given. I can’t get mad and frustrated I just have to stay with the program and my runs will come.”

Watson said he starts fresh every day, no matter the previous outcome.

“Even if you have a good practice when you come out the next day he’s going to ask you about it,” said Watson. “He will ask me how did I practice yesterday. I just tell him, I don’t know coach I flushed the toilet.”

Leading up to and during the scrimmage, Watson’s running lanes were much different than that off old. He worked largely between the tackles and often waited for a lane to develop before attacking at just the right time. As represented by last season’s team production, a solid running attack makes Rakeem Cato’s high-powered air attack even more effective.

Perhaps this truly is a new version of Remi Watson that has heeded Coach Barclay’s advice and turned over a new leaf in his style of running. But take caution should Watson revert to his old running ways as the outcome could get messy in a hurry.

Hopefully for Herd fans Watson has flushed the toilet of his old ways for good and there are no clogs along the way in the system.

Eric Frohnapfel Interview 8-19

Frohnapfel speaks about football life after his brother Blake's transfer to UMASS, as well as him getting the starting nod at quarterback plus some good brotherly love humor.

Eric Frohnapfel Interview 8-19