Friday, August 8, 2014

Marshall Football Day 5 Practice Report

Day 5 of Marshall football’s fall camp is in the books as we saw two things today for the first time this week; rain and full-pad contact. Much like the rain, the contact was light much of the afternoon with the occasional burst of rain—and heavy contact.

The most noticeable difference in practice today was the receiver’s ability to pull in passes. Several balls slipped through receivers hands who had been making solids grabs all week. The other issue with the weather today was players experienced some troubles keeping solid footing on the new turf. It was a good session to work out something the team had yet to experience on the new surface.

Devon Johnson was absent from practice today due to a personal matter he had to deal with back home according to head coach Doc Holliday. He is expected to return to practice tomorrow. With Johnson’s absence, Remi Watson took the first team snaps, Stew Butler worked with the second team and Brandon Bird split time with Tony Pittman on the third team.  Watson and Butler took care of the pigskin during the session. Pittman leveled freshman linebacker Kaleb Harris while Byrd had less than a stellar afternoon.
During the 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice, Bryd put the ball on the turf and felt the wrath of his new running backs coach Chris Barclay. After a brief discussion from Barclay, Byrd returned to the field but ended up on the wrong end of a massive collision with linebacker Cortez Carter that sent Byrd hard to the turf. Byrd was transported to the hospital as a precautionary matter and no other information was provided on his status.

Deandre Reaves had a solid day today as he continues to emerge as a consistent target in this deep group of receivers. Reaves pulled in a superb catch on a flag route then finished in a score after a nice tight rope display down the sideline. Reaves is a guy that needs the ball with room to run. Justin Hunt made a great grab on a perfect throw from Cato but continues to struggle with the drops. Josh Knight continues to impress. He made several nice catches in tight coverage. Angelo Jean-Louis and Emanuel Beal had solid days. Jean-Louis hauled in a pass on the sideline just before falling out of bounds with redshirt freshman Chocolate Wilson draped over him. Beal burned starting defensive back Keith Baxter on a comeback route as he increased his value with his performance today. Gator Green had an off day after a terrific week of camp as he dropped several passes. The true freshman battled through and had a decent finish to the day.

Gunnar Holcombe appears to be in line for the back-up quarterback position over true freshman Cole Garvin. But make no mistake, Holcombe is no Blake Frohnapfel and has much to learn in a short time. His timing and arm strength continue to be an issue during drills with defensive pressure present. Garvin still has a weak arm and appears to be watching the game in fast-forward. The game is moving faster than he can process and his head looks like it’s a spin-top.

Tyler Williams booming punts continued for the third day in a row including a 48-yard “Rugby” punt that forced the returner to immediately step out of bounds on the sideline after fielding the kick. Williams is a member of the Ray Guy award watch list, but it still waits to be decided if the junior will have a enough punts per game average to qualify. Justin Haig didn’t struggle with the rain today as he split the uprights from 47 yards. Nick Smith planted a kick on top of the Shewey Building that sailed over the block “M” above the scoreboard. Redshirt freshman Kaare Vedvik booted the kickoffs for the second day in a row while sending every ball into the end zone. He also worked with the punt team but outside of a 57 yard punt, he struggled with the remaining attempts.

Offensive Lineman AJ Addison had to spend some time away from the line drills today as he found himself in the middle of two separate scuffles. Nothing worth noting came from any of the scuffles.

I can finally report about the defense as we got a good look at the first team defense. James Rouse, Jarquez Samuel, Gary Thompson and Ra’Shawde Myers anchored the front with Neville Hewitt, Jermaine Holmes and DJ Hunter at linebacker. AJ Leggett, Taj Letman, Keith Baxter and Corey Tindal worked in the secondary.

Injury report for today has Clint Van Horn still with a boot on his right foot and walking on crutches. That however did not keep Van Horn from coaching up his fellow teammates. Sandley Jean-Felix worked with the first team in place of Van Horn. Tiquan Lang was back on the field in limited action today but did not participate in the contact portions of practice. Corie Wilson does not appear to be getting back into a Herd uniform anytime soon as his right leg is still in a brace and he continues to walk with crutches. Virginia Tech transfer Donaldven Manning remained on the sideline today working out with the training staff.

Phil Steele released an updated Bowl projection today that had Marshall playing UCLA in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve in Arizona. My fellow colleagues found this ironic since we designated today as fiesta Friday well before Steele’s release. Mark this day down should this game actually happen.

Tomorrow’s practice will begin at 1:30 p.m. and Coach Holliday said in a brief statement today that there would be scrimmage like situations worked into practice. Nothing more to report from Holliday as we had a very brief meeting with him after he spent several minutes with the trainers that tended to Byrd. 

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