The thunderstorms stayed away from Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Friday afternoon. There was plenty of electricity, though, on the field.
The Thundering Herd’s first practice as an entire team was its first practice in full pads, and the energy was pretty high by the time the team got into 11-on-11 drills. It started on defense, as its pressure on the quarterback had the entire defensive sideline hopping and whooping. Then a James Rouse sack sent half that defensive sideline streaming onto the field to congratulate him.
Not to be outdone, the offense did the same on the next play after a Blake Frohnapfel to Eric Frohnapfel connection for a nice gain. Corner Derrick Thomas said knowing they’d be in full pads Friday was enough to charge up the team — some even more than others.
The first time in pads, it was crazy. (Defensive end) Alex Bazzie, he dressed up in his full equipment and sat in our special team meetings. His full equipment on, an hour and a half before practice. So there’s a lot of guys excited for the first days of pads.
But as much jawing as there was, Thomas likened it to brothers going toe to toe on the ball field. The trash talking may get intense, but in the end, everyone is still family.
We’re going to fight and go back and forth every day, player for player. We’ll go at it, but one thing about us, we come together as a team a lot more. That day when another team finally gets in front of us, I feel kind of bad for them.
Thomas had a really nice stop during tackling drills to start Friday’s practice, but the offense got its licks in, too. Stew Butler had a nice run through the heart of the defense for a touchdown, one he punctuated with an emphatic spike. Receiver Shawney Kersey caught a deep ball from Cato for a touchdown after getting behind two defenders. Kersey, Demetrius Evans and Justin Hunt were working with Cato in 11-on-11 drills, but we’ll see if that carries over to Saturday’s scrimmage.
Also, Devon Johnson, now a tight end, had a nice touchdown catch from Blake Frohnapfel later in the day. Johnson has been hopscotching around the roster, moving from linebacker to fullback to tight end, but it looks like the coaches really want to find a place on the field for him, and he’s not disappointing.
Friday was just a taste of what we’ll see Saturday in the Herd’s first preseason scrimmage. You can see it too, if you’re a season ticket holder or Big Green member. If you’re not, Marshall will have folks at Gate A to help you sign up for either, or both. Gates open at 10:15 a.m. for the 10:45 a.m. scrimmage.