Post-April 18 Scrimmage Recap

April 18, 2014 by Derek Redd

 

Marshall’s offense, especially its passing game, didn’t have it as easy as it did last week in Friday’s intrasquad scrimmage at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Most of the numbers were about the same — look at Friday’s numbers below versus last week’s 28 for 56 for 443 yards — but there was significantly more pressure on the quarterbacks.

The defense recorded 11 sacks Friday, led by Armonze Daniel’s three. Well, they’re “sacks” more than actual sacks, really. As soon as a defender gets a hand on the QB, the play is whistled dead. Plus, offensive line coach Alex Mirabal said his unit was working on different blocking schemes. He made what I consider a valid point about statistics in spring scrimmages, that these days are meant for development.

“I worry about what our communication is like and just self-improvement and self-development,” he said. “That, to me, is what it’s about. You’ve got a lot of kids there that aren’t going to be playing during the 2014 season that still need a lot of seasoning. … Spring football is really the only time that football is an individual game, in terms of what development that individual kid is doing.”

Still, it made Marshall coach Doc Holliday happy to see they way his defensive line was able to penetrate, especially Daniel. The redshirt junior was a four-star prospect when he arrived in Huntington, but has recorded just 19 tackles in two seasons on the field. With the defensive line needing to re-establish depth, his progress gives him the shot at helping there.

“I’ve done this a long time,” Holliday said. “Players develop at different times. (Sebastian Johansson) for the first two years couldn’t play, and all of a sudden, the third year, it starts to kick and he’s become a good player for us. It’s the same thing with Armonze. Sometimes offensive and defensive linemen take a little longer to develop, and once that light goes on, he’s feeling confident, playing fast and looking like what we thought when we recruited him.”

Kevin Grooms looked like his old self early in the scrimmage, carrying twice for 39 yards before giving way to the rest of the running backs for the rest of the day. The backup quarterback race still looks close, with none of the three contenders standing out. Gunnar Holcombe threw for 115 yards, but completed just six of 18 passes and threw two interceptions. Cole Garvin went just 3-for-13, but threw for 131 yards and a touchdown. Kevin Anderson played in mop-up duty and completed two of six, but both were for touchdowns. Angelo Jean-Louis showed that he should fight for playing time among the outside receivers, catching three passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

The rest of your scrimmage stats are below:

Offense

Team rushing: 52-151 (2.9 yards per carry)

Team passing: 22-57-429, 5 TD, 2 INT

Total offense: 109 plays, 580 yards, 5.32 per play

Rushing

Grooms 2-39

Butler 11-60, TD

Watson 7-20

Mudimbi 8-33

Cato 4-6

Holcombe 4-(-21)

Garvin 5-(-23)

Rodriguez 7-39

Carter 3-(-2)

Anderson 1-0

Passing

Cato 11-20-158, TD

Holcombe 6-18-115, TD, 2 INT

Garvin 3-13-121, TD

Anderson 2-6-35, 2 TD

Receiving

Shuler 4-66

Woodrum 1-12

Hunt 2-59

Frohnapfel 2-36, TD

Jean-Louis 3-91, 2 TD

Allen 3-73, TD

Johnson 2-33

Reaves 1-6

Wilkins 2-45

McManus 1-9, TD

Defensive highlights

Houston 8 tack, 1 sack

Tindal 7 tack, PBU

Lang 6 tack, INT, PBU

Carter 7 tack, 1 sack

Daniel 3 tack, 3 sacks

Waiters 5 tack, PBU

Letman 5 tack, PBU

Hunter 5 tack, TFL, PBU

Strong 1 sack

Blackmon 1 sack

Samuel 1 sack

Brown 2 sacks

Thompson 1 sack

 

 

The multiple-financial-aid-agreement game on its way out

April 16, 2014 by Derek Redd

Here’s a rule change many around college football saw coming a mile away. The NCAA has tweaked its policy concerning mid-year enrollees and the burgeoning phenomenon of them signing multiple financial aid agreements. Those kids still can do so, but now the NCAA will rule that the schools who don’t ultimately land the prospect will be in violation of recruiting rules.

I wrote about this as a preview to 2014 National Signing Day (in a story that apparently has been scrubbed from existence from the Internet. My Social Security number still exists, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice). Marshall recruit Cole Garvin, who enrolled at the school this semester, signed his agreement in November, which allowed Marshall unlimited contact. Yet Marshall’s was the only letter he signed.

Other prospects signed multiple agreements, which allowed several schools unlimited contact and muddied the recruiting waters. Five-star receiver Josh Malone was the most visible example, signing agreements with Tennessee, Florida State, Georgia and Clemson before picking Tennessee. The NCAA hasn’t outright banned the practice, but that new wrinkle will make another school think twice about signing a mid-year enrollee who already signed an agreement to another one.

Time is a flat circle …

April 13, 2014 by Derek Redd

We’re starting to see at least how the dominoes are starting to stack up in the Marshall men’s basketball coaching search. A source told the Daily Mail on Sunday night that Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole will interview on campus this week for the vacant Thundering Herd job. The 33-year-old former Penn player has been RMU’s coach since 2010 and taken the Colonials to the second round of the NIT in each of the last two seasons. Two seasons ago, he pulled off maybe the biggest win in RMU history by upsetting Kentucky in the first round of the NIT.

Toole actually has some tangential history with former Marshall head coach Tom Herrion. Toole came to RMU from Lafayette in 2007 as an assistant to former Colonials head coach Mike Rice. Rice left for Rutgers in 2010, which allowed Toole to ascend to the Colonials’ top job. Rice took the RMU job in 2007 after serving as an assistant at Pittsburgh under Jamie Dixon. When Rice left Pitt, that opened a spot on Dixon’s staff … which allowed Herrion to join the Panthers as an assistant after a year of doing television. And Herrion’s tenure at Pitt helped him snag the head coaching job at Marshall in 2010.

So Mike Rice’s departure at two different schools helped two assistant coaches get head coaching jobs in the same year. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go cut figurines out of Lone Star cans in a police interrogation room.

Can't happen. I could never grow that good of a mustache.

Can’t happen. I could never grow that good of a mustache.

April 12 Post-Scrimmage Recap

April 12, 2014 by Derek Redd

Any worries about Marshall’s starting quarterback (if there were any to begin with) should be tossed away. As far as the race for No. 2 goes, it looks like Bill Legg’s prediction that it would take a while sounds pretty accurate.

Rakeem Cato shredded the Herd defense in Marshall’s first full scrimmage of the spring, even without his favorite target. Yet, even though the Herd D stayed pretty basic all Saturday afternoon and rested DL James Rouse, LB Evan McKelvey and CB Darryl Roberts, it still made a few big plays against the rest of the Herd’s quarterbacks.

Cato threw for 324 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions Saturday, finding his most luck with Davonte Allen (five catches, 122 yards), Deandre Reaves (five catches, 83 yards and a touchdown) and Demetrius Evans (four catches, 75 yards and a touchdown). Tommy Shuler was out of town with a family obligation, so Cato used Saturday to enhance his connections with his other wideouts.

The original thought that Cato — the 2012 Conference USA MVP, 2013 C-USA offensive player of the year and just named one of the top 25 players in college football by Sporting News — would take it easy this spring. That’s something he didn’t want.

“I asked for more reps,” Cato said. “Coach Legg has thrown some new plays in and I wanted to get a great feel for them, so by the time camp comes around, I’ll be used to it.”

The contenders for the backup quarterback spot weren’t as lethal. Gunnar Holcombe went 4-for-17 for 36 yards and an interception. Cole Garvin went 7-for-12 for 64 yards and two interceptions, and Kevin Anderson went 2-of-4 for 19 yards. On top of the three picks — by A.J. Leggett, Michael Johnson and Donaldven Manning — the defense broke up two more passes. Marshall coach Doc Holliday said the defense stayed mostly with basic formations for the afternoon.

The team next practices Tuesday afternoon. Scrimmage stats are below.

Offense

Team rushing — 40-104 (2.6 yards per carry)

Team passing — 28-56-443

Total offense — 96-547  (5.7 yards per play)

Passing

Cato 15-23-324, 2 TD, 0 INT

Holcombe 4-17-36, 0 TD, 1 INT

Garvin 7-12-64, 0 TD, 2 INTs

Anderson 2-4-19

Receiving

Allen 5-122

Evans 4-75, TD

Jean-Louis 1-8

Mudimbi 1-8

Reaves 5-83, TD

Woodrum 1-5

Wilkins 2-28

Johnson 2-50

Helow 3-18

McManus 1-6

Hunt 2-19

Frohnapfel 1-24

Rushing

Grooms 5-15

Cato 4-32, TD

Mudimbi 7-30

Holcombe 4-minus-13

Watson 7-23, TD

Butler 7-16, 2 TD

Garvin 2-minus-6

Carter 2-1

Rodriugez 1-12, TD

Team 1-minus-6

Defensive highlights

Hunter 7 tack, FR

Lang 6 tack, FF

Waiters 5 tack, .5 TFL, PBU

Houston 4 tack

Wilson 4 tack, PBU

Daniel 2 sacks

Massaquoi 1 sack

Blackmon 1 sack

Williams 1 sack

Thompson .5 sack

Brown .5 sack

Manning INT

M. Johnson INT

Leggett INT

Are you faster than a Marshall football player? MU students get the chance to find out

April 8, 2014 by Derek Redd

Marshall football is giving some brave student a chance to stack up his speed against one of its own. At the April 26 Green and White game, two lucky(?) students with the fastest 40s on April 17 will race a Thundering Herd football player. If they beat him, they get $3,000 toward tuition and books.

These men are not amused by your 40 time.

These men are not amused by your 40 time.

Their MU football opponent has not yet been named. For the students’ sake, they’ll keep Kevin Grooms and Stew Butler on the sideline. Shoot, if any student can beat either of those two in a footrace, Marshall shouldn’t just hand him three grand. It should hand him a football scholarship.

What does “Saul Ball” at Ohio mean for the Marshall coaching search?

April 6, 2014 by Derek Redd

Late last night, the Athens (Ohio) Messenger reported that North Dakota State’s Saul Phillips was Ohio’s new basketball coach, replacing Boston College-bound Jim Christian. So what does that mean for the Marshall search?

For one, that takes a contender for the Thundering Herd job off the table. Phillips had been mentioned in more than one spot as a coach to watch in Huntington. His resume fit what we’ve divined Marshall’s strategy to be — looking for successful small-school head coaches.

And here’s something else. Reports have Phillips signing a deal that pays him $550,000 annually.  Based on Tom Herrion’s contract, that’s about $100,000 more than what Herrion was scheduled to make in 2013-14. During his press conference to discuss Herrion’s resignation, Marshall AD Mike Hamrick mentioned the improvements made in recent years to the men’s basketball program. Could more improvements, especially in the realm of compensation, be on the horizon? Does Marshall have a choice?

 

 

 

Post-Spring Practice Report for April 5

April 5, 2014 by Derek Redd

Saturday’s Marshall spring football practice could be labeled as scrimmage-ish.

There were plenty of special teams and individual drills through the morning, but the team broke into offense and defense for two sessions. The first was pretty light on contact. The second was much more physical. Official stats weren’t kept — and the action often was too fast for me to keep an accurate tally myself — but I can offer some general impressions of the day.

– The tight ends all performed well this morning. Eric Frohnapfel made a pretty catch over Michael Johnson and Tiquan Lang in 7-on-7 drills. (Might have felt like a little bit of revenge for Frohnapfel on Lang, after Rakeem Cato’s first attempt of the first scrimmage session — a pass to Frohnapfel — was batted away by Lang.) Frohnapfel caught another 16-yarder in the second scrimmage session, holding on even after a strong hit by A.J. Leggett.

Then it was Devon Johnson’s turn. First came an 18-yard strike from Cato, then a 20-yard touchdown in the front left corner of the end zone. Taj Letman picked off a Cato attempt to Johnson later in the session, but another defender had about half of Johnson’s jersey in his hands. Deon-Tay McManus also did OK for himself, making a few tough catches with the backups.

– At least for today, Kevin Grooms was the first running back to take snaps on offense. Gunnar Holcombe was the second quarterback to take snaps, and freshman Cole Garvin was the third. Kevin Anderson got some work at the end. It looked like, at least for today, Holcombe has the early lead on the No. 2 quarterback spot. (Not that that’s too surprising. He does have the most experience in the system.)

– Behind Grooms, Marshall ran just about every other running back, though walk-on Assani Mudimbi was the second back to get carries today. He’s a bigger guy (at least he looks bigger than the 5-foot-10 and 189 pounds at which he’s listed), so he might be able to offer a change of pace from speedsters like Grooms and Steward Butler. Butler, by the way, has a 25-yard touchdown run today. Also, this running back group likely will look a bit different in the fall with Tony Pittman and Brandon Byrd in the mix.

We’ll likely see a more traditional-looking scrimmage next week, so keep an eye out for stats that day. And keep an eye out for coverage this week, including stories on Marshall’s outside receivers and Sebastian Johansson’s move from guard to tackle.

 

The new spring depth chart is here! The new spring depth chart is here!

March 17, 2014 by Derek Redd

Marshall’s official athletics website posted a story on the football team’s spring depth chart, among other tidbits, on Monday. Now, you might as well consider a spring practice depth chart a rough draft of a rough draft, but it does offer some insight as to which way the coaches are thinking as the season gets closer.

Among the more interesting items:

– Running back this spring will be a Stew Butler/Remi Watson production. Kevin Grooms has been working out with the team, but Doc Holliday said he’s have to “earn the trust” of the team before he can officially return to the roster. Grooms was arrested on misdemeanor charges twice in seven months and indefinitely suspended after his arrest in November. Considering Butler and Watson are the only two guys listed on the RB depth chart, I’d say a lack of contact would be a good idea.

– Gunnar Holcombe, the quarterback with the most experience behind Rakeem Cato, currently is listed as the No. 2  behind Cato, but that depth chart is probably one of the most malleable on the roster. That’s not saying Holcombe won’t win the job, but I think Kevin Anderson and Cole Garvin (and more Anderson than Garvin, to preserve Garvin’s redshirt) will get plenty of opportunities to move up the list.

– There’s plenty of movement — and not much depth of experience — on the offensive line. Sebastian Johansson moves from left guard, where he started all last year, to left tackle. Blake Brooks, who played 47 snaps in the team’s first 13 games, will begin the spring as the starting left guard. Brooks did a really nice job helping the running game get going in Marshall’s Military Bowl win over Maryland. Center Chris Jasperse is a lock, as is right tackle Clint Van Horn. Michael Selby, who played well as a reserve lineman as a freshman, will start at right guard. The only other lineman with any 2013 experience is Trevor Mendelson, who played 29 snaps in the first 13 games.

– Tiquan Lang’s hold on the starting strong safety spot is so tight, D.J. Hunter has moved back to strong-side linebacker. What’s interesting about that: Marshall started the game with three linebackers just twice last season, against UAB and Tulsa. The rest of the time, Marshall started out in its nickel package. Corey Tindal, who shared Conference USA freshman of the year honors, is listed as both a starting corner and the starting nickelback. Looks like he’ll be on the field, no matter what defense the Herd runs.

We’ll get our chance to talk to Doc Holliday on Monday, about 24 hours before spring practices begin. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more to talk about from there.

Doc Holliday and Luther Campbell on the same football staff? In this alternate reality, why not?

February 26, 2014 by Derek Redd

Some ideas are just so silly, they might actually work. This one — the 2014 college football coaching draft — is one of those ideas.

The concept is simple: A bunch of staff members from FootballScoop.com and SB Nation got together to draft college football coaching staffs. It mostly included head coaches, yet (as you can see from the title of this blog post) some of the guys got a little creative.

So where did Marshall coach Doc Holliday fall in all of this? He was an eighth-round selection of SB Nation’s Bill Connelly and the 76th overall pick of the draft. Connelly has him coaching wide receivers on the staff of Gus Malzahn, though I’m sure ol’ Gus would have him cleaning up on the South Florida recruiting trail.

He’d have some surprising help on Connelly’s Malzahn-led staff from one Mr. Luther Campbell, Miami Bass godfather, former 2 Live Crew member and current defensive coordinator at Miami Norland High. “Uncle Luke” was Connelly’s final draft pick, to serve as a graduate assistant and “recruiting, duh.”

Among other notable moves:

– The head coaches would be West Virginia natives Jimbo Fisher (FSU) and Nick Saban (Alabama), Chris Petersen (Washington), Kevin Sumlin (Texas Tech), Mike Leach (Washington State), Steve Spurrier (South Carolina), Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Les Miles (LSU), David Shaw (Stanford) and Malzahn.

– WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen joins mentor Leach’s staff as running backs coach/refreshments coordinator. Hope they like Red Bull.

– Former WVU head coach and current Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez would be Miles’ co-offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and spokesman against the proposed 10-second rule.

– Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury would be Petersen’s offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and “head of coaching gear” with creative control over uniform design.

– Saban’s staff would include defensive grad assistant Joe Moglia currently Coastal Carolina head coach, chairman of TD Ameritrade and human version of Scrooge McDuck.

– Jared Lorenzen, former portly Kentucky quarterback/portly New York Giants quarterback and current brontosaurus-sized Northern Kentucky River Monsters quarterback, would work Leach’s staff as a graduate assistant and read-option specialist.

 

 

NCAA to put speed limits on college football games?

February 12, 2014 by Derek Redd

Here’s a proposed rule that Marshall football fans should pay attention to: The NCAA Football Rules Committee has suggested that offenses be assessed a five-yard delay-of-game flag … for playing too quickly.

If the committee gets its way, an offense could get flagged if it snaps the ball any earlier than 29 seconds left on the 40-second play clock. The suggestion comes, according to the NCAA, with the safety of defenses in mind. The committee feels defenses should get 10 seconds to substitute players.

Why should Herd fans worry? Marshall was fourth last season among Football Bowl Subdivision teams in plays run, with 1,093, or 78.1 per game. High tempo offenses like the Herd’s likely wouldn’t benefit from that change.

Though they might have to learn at least one Sammy Hagar tune …