Its back to the grind for Marshall football as fall camp enters its second day after a successful day one in which head coach Doc Holliday said he liked where his team was at. A few new faces graced the morning session including running backs coach Chris Barclay who returns after the welcoming the birth of his first child last week.
Practice seemed to have a much better flow this morning with the freshmen and newcomers knowing what is expected during the session. Only three non-red stripe helmets in practice this morning as Joe Woodrum, Josh Knight and Michael Johnson were looked upon for leadership from the new players. Knight reflects on what he learned last season as he tries to apply that to the field.
“It’s a good opportunity to finally come out and be a leader,” Knight said. “I just try to take from what I learned from guys like Tommy Shuler and Craig Wilkens and try to apply that with the younger guys and emulate what the upperclassmen do.”
Knight did a good job this morning of leading the receivers through hands drills as well as on the field as he made adjustments on several misdirected balls that were destined for the turf and turned them into completions.
Another receiver who stood out in the early session once again was Gator Green. Much like Knight, his hands brought balls back to his body that were destined for the turf. He cuts crisply in his routes and makes himself available to quarterback. He reminds me of a young Shuler. Green also worked with the special teams unit returning punts and looked very savvy during the workout. Early in camp, Green appears to be a mixture of Shuler and last season’s dynamic returner Devon “Moo-Moo” Smith all in one package. But I will digress before placing him at the top of the depth charts, we have yet to see full contact yet, something that will not happen until Friday.
Hyleck Foster had a good morning with the receivers including a nice circus catch on a post-route.
Barclay worked with four backs this morning; Assani Mudimbi, Tony Pittman, David Gaydosz and Jamon Cofield. Pittman and Mudimbi looked explosive when working with the offensive line while letting the play develop in front of them before exploding throw the opening provided. Both were shifty side-to-side and have shown they see the field well.
“While we have a nice combo with (Stew) Butler, (Remi) Watson and (Devon) Johnson, we have a couple nice kids in Brandon Byrd and Tony Pittman that we feel has a lot of promise and we are going to get those guys plenty of work,” Barclay said.
Barclay—who comes to Marshall from William and Mary where he served the same capacity—said although this is a pass-first offense, the running game is a must to keep hungry defenses honest.
Ultimately we are going to pass the football,” Barclay said. “We have one of the best quarterbacks in the country and we want to showcase his skills but we have to keep defenses honest. In order to do that effectively, we have to run the football.”
Much like last season, Marshall could utilize a three-back system with Bulter, Watson and Johnson carrying the load. With the addition of Johnson to the backs that allows both him and Eric Frohnapfel to work on the field at the same time.
“We just want to have our best people on the field,” Barclay said. “With the addition of Johnson and Frohnapfel on the field at the same time gives us the best opportunity to succeed.”
Michael Birdsong and Cole Garvin split time at quarterback throughout the session with Birdsong being the sharper of the two. Many of Birdsong’s passes were sharp and on time to his receivers as they broke out of their route. He did have one miscue during the 11-on-11 drill to close practice as an indecisive throw fell into the hands of freshman safety Chase Hancock for an interception. Garvin was inconsistent with many of his throws sailing over the heads of his intended targets.
After a good start to Kaare Vedvik’s fall camp, the red-shirt freshman had a morning to forget. After splitting the uprights yesterday from nearly anywhere on the field, today his kicks graced the face of the brand new “yellow highlighter” colored goal posts in three consecutive kicks. Punting did not go much better for the rookie as several kicks sailed out of bounds and into the defensive line group. He did rebound near the end of his workout by drilling two punts from his own 45 that landed three yards in the end zone.
Coach Cronin had a high point from red-shirt freshman defensive end Aaron Plantt as a beautiful swim move off the left end led him to a sack.
Only injury of the morning session was Antavis Rowe who rolled his ankle while returning a punt. He limped off and was attended to by the medical staff.
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