Cooler heads seemed to prevail at this mornings practice after an extremely physical session yesterday afternoon. With only two practices remaining before Saturday’s scrimmage, players were still looking for a chance to impress as the release of the two-deep is in the near future.
Coach Holliday talked about the upcoming scrimmage and what his expectations were coming out of Saturday night.
“I think the one thing I want to do is I see some young kids out here making some plays but I want to get off the field and not coach them every snap,” Holliday said. “I want to get the coaches off the field and let them go out and continue to make plays on their own, which I think they can, and just let them go play.”
Holliday said it will be a good workout for all his players to be playing with conference officials that can make sure each position is playing within the rules of the game and said the players and coaches will get an opportunity to sit through a rules clinic with the officials allowing time to clarify any questions about situations or rule changes for this season.
With the announcement of the two-deep closing in, Saturday could be a final chance for a young player to make a difference. Holliday said there is not a specific position he is watching, but there are some young kids who have the ability to play.
“I see the Yurachek kid, he’s going to be a good player,” said Holliday of the freshman tight end. “ We just want to find out exactly who can play because once we get back here Monday the two-deep will pretty well be set.”
Holliday addressed the increased attention his program has received this season and how he has to police how the team embraces it.
“They’ve done a good job of embracing it but they also know it’s their responsibility to go to work every day and get better,” Holliday said of the heightened attention. “Bottom line is those goals and expectations go out the window pretty quick if you don’t take care of business and prepare every day and make sure you are a vested football team.”
“I think it’s great they are talking about us.” Holliday added. “Four years ago nobody was talking about us and even three years ago. So now for us to be mentioned in those kinds of terms, its and honor and a privilege for our University.”
Cato ends it here
Cato had a stellar morning with his tight ends as he made hook-ups with all but Yurachek. Cato worked behind great protection from a beat-up offensive line that provided Deon-Tay McManus time to cut across the field and separate from DJ Hunter who was in coverage. McManus is a natural wide receiver who was converted to tight end at Marshall. He poses to cause problems in the defense’s pass coverage, much like Gator Hoskins did his final two years.
Joe Woodrum continues to impress and show he deserves his share of targets on the field with the Heisman Trophy candidate. Woodrum’s route running continues to better each day, something he attributes to fellow tight end Eric Frohnapfel. Woodrum snagged a Cato pass on an out route for a gain of 20+.
Frohnapfel is showing he is going to be a tough act to handle this year. He has worked everywhere from the slot to his hand down on the line. His release makes it nearly impossible to cover him within 7-yards from the line and Cato has been taking advantage of that skill. The pair hooked up on a quick slant that found no one in the vicinity when the catch was made. For a six-foot seven-inch player, much like Hoskins, Frohnapfel finds a way to get lost in the defense.
Although Yurachek did not make any spectacular catches from Cato does not mean the freshman was left out in the cold. Yurachek made an amazing one-handed catch from Gunnar Holcombe on a pass to the flat. Yurachek had to tip the ball back to himself before securing it and getting up field. Coach Holliday is high on this kid and certainly thinks he can contribute in a big way to the team.
The air up there
Practice focused more on 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills today with some practice routines mixed in between. Several players had a chance to shine today but how the chance was received is a different story. Rakeem Cato looked sharped and revitalized after getting over a rough patch in camp. Cato sprayed the ball all over the field today from deep routes to quick slants with his accuracy and time pinpoint. Cato’s familiarization with redshirt freshman Angelo Jean-Louis continues to improve as the duo hooked up on a deep out route resulting in a big gain. Jean-Louis has stepped his game up throughout camp and appears to be fighting for a starting job come Miami. He stretches the defense down field with should help take the pressure off Shuler underneath.
Davonte Allen displayed separating speed today on deep post routes and another consistent day of practice. Coach Furrey expects Allen to be “the guy” as an outside receiver but explained it’s up to Allen of when he accepts and understands that role. Allen plucked a pass from the air that appeared to be directed to Tommy Shuler after Allen’s route cut in front of the slot-receiver and two defenders. The end result was a touchdown and a nice pat on the helmet from Shuler.
Shuler has made an amazing catch nearly every day in camp and today was no different. Shuler skied over corner Corey Tindal on a deep route to pull in the catch and maintain ball control through heavy contact to the turf. Shuler takes the receiver position to a new level every day.
Deandre Reaves continues to adjust to his new position of outside receiver used his breakaway speed to burn Keith Baxter on a jet route deep. Reaves separated from Baxter allowing him to catch the pass in stride.
Holcombe hooked up with Josh Knight several times in the session including a 30-yard pass out of their end zone. The pass was a bit behind Knight, but he was able to pull it in easily for a big gain.
Emanuel Beal pulled in a nice back shoulder catch on a ball that was right on time during a 7-on-7 drill. Beal is a guy that will probably redshirt but could produce for the Herd should his number be called.
It’s not always about passing
While Devon Johnson failed to deliver any thunderous hits today, he still looked solid running the ball. Johnson pushed through the gaps with conviction and was able to bust two runs for big gains. The approach teams take with him will be interesting to say the least as arm tackles rarely even slow down the 243-pound back.
Remi Watson fully returned to practice today after sitting out yesterday nursing an injury. Watson showed his is bought in to Coach Barclay’s words of wisdom as he finds the hole and cuts up field. We have yet to see the dancing Remi of old which is a welcomed transition into the backfield. Watson split time with Butler at the twos.
Butler had a few nice runs of his own. Stew can get to the edge with his speed and cut up field once he finds a hole. He did have a nice run off tackle that took two redirects before crossing in for 6. Butler has the skill and speed, but the mentality may be the obstacle that holds this dynamic running back down.
Pittman took some third team reps today with decent success until he coughed up the ball for another fumble. Pittman has struggle through the two weeks of hanging onto the ball but Coach Barclay explained the redshirt-freshman is still seeing the game in fast forward and has high hopes that he will settle in soon.
Stop pushing me
With a depleted offensive line working through several key injuries to the starters, the defensive line has been getting great pushes into the backfield. However, Ill give credit where its due and the back up line has worked well to provide Cato time to get the ball down field or opening a hole for a back to run through. With that said, James Rouse has been a man among boys at times when firing off. Rouse’s presence at the defensive tackle adds a totally different element that teams have to deal with. Jarquez Samuel has been providing a solid push this week and takes advantage of the gaps that open when Rouse draws extra attention.
Have you Herd the word?
In its college football preseason rankings, USA Today Sports named Wisconsin as No. 21 meaning the Herd will crack the Top-20. Provided the clue that is given for the next team in the poll, it appears the Herd will come in at No. 20. The clue was this team is 71-15 in seasons in which it scored over 500 total points. Marshall achieved this in ’91, ’92, ’94, ’96, ’01 and ’13 and its record equaled 71-15.
The Herd received a new walk-on player today who transferred from the University of Cincinnati. Zach Higginbotham was seen on the sidelines today in a No. 57 jersey without pads. He is six-foot, 211 pounds and is listed as a redshirt freshman linebacker. He played high school ball at Country Day in Cincinnati. The transfer will sit this season and be eligible to play next year.
Today’s practice will be the final open session before the team begins prepping for Miami-Ohio Monday. The Herd will conduct its annual 6 a.m. practice Thursday morning before leaving for Charleston to “Paint the Capital City Green” event Thursday evening.
Brandon Byrd was in full pads today and participated in the drills on air but did not work out in the contact drills. Byrd continues to progress towards a full return.
Remi Watson fully returned to practice today as he split time with Stew Butler with the twos.
Donaldven Manning and Justin Hunt spent their morning with the trainers.
Clint Van Horn continues to watch from the sidelines but fully dresses out with the team. The ankle splint was not present again today suggesting his comeback is favorable.
Kent Turene spent his morning on the bike before watching from the sidelines. He too was fully dressed out.
Collins, K-Rody, Selby and Brooks were all out again today as was Darryl ‘Swagg-D’ Roberts who was in street clothes. Roberts sat out most of yesterday’s practice with an undisclosed injury.